The calm before the storm could be felt this morning with sunny spells and some early frost. Today is expected to be mainly dry with afternoon temperatures of 11 to 14C.
But Lorenzo, set to drop from a monster category-five hurricane to a tropical storm by tomorrow, is now expected to track past Ireland’s west coast or, in a worst case scenario, sweep directly over the country.
Met Éireann is due to issue national weather warnings at 10am this morning, with the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) are meeting at 10.30am.
The national forecaster has warned that it will bring heavy rain, surface flooding and a dangerous storm surge due to a combination of very low pressure, high tides and onshore storm-force winds.
The storm is currently bringing hurricane force winds to the Azores, with gusts of up to 140 km/h recorded.
Met Éireann have said that the effects of the weather event will begin to be felt across Ireland from midday Thursday, peaking late Thursday evening and Thursday night, easing Friday morning.
It is expected to accelerate north-eastwards across the mid-Atlantic during Wednesday, engaging with the polar jet-stream on Wednesday night approximately 1000 kilometres southwest of Ireland.
“Storm Lorenzo will continue to accelerate north-eastwards, with its centre approaching the west of Ireland during Thursday,” a Met Éireann spokesperson said. “Lorenzo will then likely make a right turn, tracking across Ireland on Thursday night whilst it begins to gradually weaken.”
Paddy Mahon, local government representative with the NECG said that authorities across the country have been preparing response plans since the start of the week.
“Since Monday when it became a possibility, councils would have been examining the weather profile, examining the potential for this to move from possible to probable,” Mr Mahon told RTÉ Morning Ireland.
“Each local authority will have a severe weather assessment team so those, particularly across the western seaboard, would have been convening since Monday and in other parts of the country as well. I’m convinced that all local authorities will be convening their teams today, just to assess how this might impact on their particular region.”
Mr Mahon said that fallen trees are a concern for many local authorities, which may “exacerbate flooding potential”.
“We’re at the time of the year where the trees are still in leaf, and a tree down as a result of a storm or hurricane, at this time of the year can have a lot more of an impact on flooding than it might do during the winter when we traditionally experience storms,” he said.
“This is a very fast moving weather event, it’s moving at an incredible pace towards Ireland. Between ourselves, local authorities and land owners, we all have an obligation to manage and mind the trees and deal with dangerous trees.
“That’s not to say every tree will be safe against the storm that’s coming. It’s inevitable that trees will fall, they’ll have an impact on power lines, possibly block roads, and they could contribute to drainage issues and cause unintended flooding as a result of that.”
Cork Airport warned travellers this morning to check flight updates with their airline today and tomorrow.
“Winds may gust 35-45knots which could lead to flight disruptions,” a spokesperson said.
.@CorkAirport we will see winds picking up from midday tomorrow but picking up considerably overnight tomorrow night into Friday morning. Winds may gust 35-45knots which could lead to flight disruptions. Please check flight updates with your airline today & tomorrow. #Lorenzo
— Cork Airport (@CorkAirport) October 2, 2019
Gardaí, Defence Forces, the ESB, local authorities, fire brigades, the HSE and Coast Guard are all on standby while road and public transport crews are also preparing to deal with the threat of disruption to transport networks.
“All the crisis management teams are now being activiated, ready to go, depending on what warning Met Éireann gives,” Minister Murphy said.
Western and northern counties are expected to be worst affected as Lorenzo pushes waves characterised as “high” or “phenomenal” across the Atlantic.
By the time they reach our shores, Mr Murphy warned they would produce “very significant wave surges”.
“They could be quite ferocious, very dangerous,” he said.
Inland and across the rest of the country, the chief concern is the impact of very strong winds on trees still heavily laden with leaves. Falling trees, ripping down power lines and blocking roads have caused fatalities in the storms of recent years.
There is also concern about potential flooding along the Shannon where the ground is already saturated following recent wet weather.
The storm threat prompted a stark warning from Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn, who demanded the triggering of emergency weather protocols in cities.
“On average 170 people per night are sleeping rough because they simply cannot access a bed. Extended 24-hour services should be put into operation until this storm passes,” he said.
The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive said it had contingency plans for the storm and would put in place temporary shelter arrangements.
“We are confident there will be sufficient additional emergency spaces to cater for those who require it,” it said.
Met Éireann’s director of forecasting, Evelyn Cusack, warned the precise track of Lorenzo will only be known today.
“While it will give some very wet and very windy weather, perhaps orange weather warnings will be the worst, perhaps touching on a status red on the west and north-west coast, but we won’t be issuing those warnings until Wednesday morning,” Ms Cusack said.
No decision will be taken on advice regarding school closures until later today.
Lorenzo has moved farther north and east across the Atlantic than any other category-five hurricane, producing wind speeds of 260kmh, but it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm when it is within 1,000km of the coast.
Last night, the storm lashed the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands with heavy rain, powerful winds and high waves, though initial reports said it caused only minor damage.
The Azores Civil Protection Agency said the category two hurricane felled trees and power lines as it passed just west of the Portuguese island chain.
Hurricanes the size of Lorenzo are rare so far north and east in the Atlantic basin.
Azores Civil Protection Agency chief Carlos Neves says two homes were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported.
Around 250,000 people live on the nine volcanic islands.
The Portuguese weather agency reported gusts of up to 90mph, lower than forecast as Lorenzo lost power over cooler water.
Authorities in the archipelago placed seven islands on red alert as Lorenzo approached.
School classes were cancelled and government offices were closed as people were told to remain indoors Wednesday.
Azores airline Sata cancelled all flights to the archipelago, and some islands closed their ports.