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WIND-TO THE WEST; WEATHER BOMB LANDS IN IRELAND 130kmh gales batter coast causing damage Alert to remain in place this morning.

Byline: PAT FLYNN, STEPHEN MAGUIRE and JAMES WARD

WINDS of up to 130kmh battered the West coast yesterday causing damage and travel chaos.

A Status Orange weather alert was issued for Mayo, Donegal, Leitrim, Galway, Sligo and Clare as an Atlantic weatherbomb passed over the top of the country.

Met Eireann had warned of westerly winds reaching mean speeds of 110kmh to 130kmh and this remains in place until 10am today.

And after yesterday's battering forecasters have warned that snow showers could be on their way for some western counties later in the week.

During the brutal gales: A schoolbus in Donegal narrowly avoided being crushed by a tree Staff and visitors at the Cliffs Of Moher had to be evacuated | Roads were closed and thousands of people were left without power, and Huge waves up to 75feet high battered coastal areas of Sligo and Donegal. Now Met Eireann is warning there will be no let up for the West coast as the cruel winds will be followed by snow showers.

As record waves of up to 75ft hit parts of the North West, close to 3,000 homes were left without power in Mayo and Donegal between Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

In Letterkenny, Co Donegal, a bus driver was hailed as a hero when he managed to brake just seconds before a falling tree hit the victim.

The driver of the Home James bus was taking 11 children to school in the Lisnennan area close to Woodlands when the incident happened.

The driver managed to brake in time escaping the full force of the brunt of the falling tree. A number of the children and the driver were shaken but there were no injuries.

He told witnesses he saw the tree "falling in slow motion" before he tried frantically to stop.

The tree did hit the front of the bus causing some damage during the incident just before 9am. The parents of the children were informed of the incident and the bus was later towed away.

Elsewhere, staff and visitors were evacuated from the Cliffs of Moher yesterday as storms battered the West coast.

Management at the Co Clare attraction quickly closed the visitor centre after the strong winds started to sweep up debris posing a danger to staff and visitors.

Given its location on the edge of the Atlantic, high winds have previously lifted vehicles and people off the ground at the attraction which has been visited by more than a million people so far this year.

Staff follow clear established safety protocols to deal with severe weather conditions at the 700ft cliffs.

Yesterday, as Atlantic gusts reached up to 130kmh management invoked their Red Protocol, meaning the evacuation of all staff and visitors from the cliffs and visitor centre. The facility was locked down and people were advised not to access the site which can't be completely secured. Centre director Katherine Webster said: "Winds were extremely dangerous with some airborne rock debris falling near the viewing platforms.

"There were small stones and even some fist-size debris swept up by the winds.

"There has been some damage to barriers but we won't be able to assess that until the storm passes."

The iconic attraction was closed twice in a week in February last year after winds topped 120kmh.

Several visitors were injured when they were swept off their feet by the strong winds while a vehicle evacuating staff members was also lifted off the ground.

Meanwhile, Met Eireann said the winds battering the West coast will give way to snow later this week.

Temperatures will drop to between 1C and 4C, as rain sweeps the country. Forecaster John Eagleton said: "Today will still be a cold day with lots of showers, we'll have a spell of rain in the evening.

"That will introduce as it clears away, much colder conditions.

"Friday is going to be a cold day, with some showers that will turn to snow, particularly in Connacht and Ulster.

"It will probably stick around on Friday, it's certainly possible.

"It will be a real raw day. Where the showers do occur, it will be in those coastal areas of Donegal, North Mayo, down to Galway, Connemara.

"Maybe even as far as Kerry, where they come in off the sea.

"It will be too cold for the showers to be sustained overland, that's why I think the bulk of the country will just be cold and dry. But in those fringes there around the coastal counties there will be a lot of snow showers."

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

The seaside in Portrush gets a massive soaking

DONEGAL Waves crash on the Lagg Road near Malin Head

A brave walker in Mullaghmore SLIGO

MAYO Drivers were faced with treacherous conditions in Westport

BLAST Satellite view of the weather bomb
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Dec 11, 2014
Words:803
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