July 14, 2024

Homes and cars in an Irish village have been seriously damaged after a possible tornado hit the area.

Emergency services were called to Leitrim village on Sunday afternoon after high winds flattened trees, ripped a roof off a building and left debris scattered on a street.

Met Éireann meteorologist Liz Walsh said reports of a tornado in the area were “possibly correct” or “certainly some very high winds associated with the thunderstorm”. She said the forecaster was relying on social media reports and videos to say for certain if it was a tornado.

She added: “In a thundercloud, the wind speed and direction can change as it goes up in the cloud, which causes rotation and if the funnel cloud is able to stretch all the way down to the ground that causes a tornado.

“It could also have been a straight line gust, it’s most likely one or the other, but people say they saw rotation. They’re not a very forecastable thing, it would only be there for a couple of minutes.”

A witness to the possible tornado said his Jeep was pelted with debris as he drove through the storm.

Councillor Paddy Farrell said he was almost caught in the middle of the “tornado” while driving through Leitrim village. “I was actually driving through the village myself. If I was a second slower I’d have been in the brunt of it,” he said.

“I was driving my Jeep. It sounded as if there was a crowd pegging stones at my Jeep as I was driving through, with all the debris that was flying around. It just happened all of a sudden.”

Farrell, who lives near the village, added: “There was a roof taken off a building, and there were several buildings damaged. Even on fairly new apartments there was damage, I think the window blew in on one of them.

“There’s a lot of cars damaged, there could be 10 to 20 cars damaged.” He said emergency services were called and businesses near the scene had closed.

“No one was badly injured, but I think there were two minor injuries,” he said, adding: “I was actually shook when I came home to the house, because it was frightening – I kept going to get home as quick as I could.”

It comes after a yellow thunderstorm warning was issued for Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, and Westmeath from midday until 6pm, meaning thunderstorms and lightning are likely.

Meanwhile, high winds and potential coastal flooding are expected on the west coast of Ireland later on Sunday as Storm Fergus sweeps across the island, Met Éireann has said.

Orange warnings for wind are in place for counties Clare, Galway and Mayo, indicating very strong onshore winds coupled with high waves and high tides.

Storm Fergus, the second named storm of the weekend, has also brought yellow warnings for wind in counties Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Cavan, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wicklow, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.

Those counties can expect difficult travelling conditions caused by debris or displaced loose objects.

Met Éireann meteorologist Michelle Dillon said: “Strong to gale force south-west winds veering westerly will be developing through Sunday afternoon, evening and early Sunday night as Storm Fergus tracks eastwards across the country.

“Storm surge will lead to high seas and along with the stormy conditions there’s the possibility of coastal flooding along parts of the west coast, particularly at high tide.”

The UK Met Office has also put in place some yellow weather warnings in parts of Scotland and northern England, but no warnings for Northern Ireland have been issued.

Met Office chief meteorologist Andy Page said Storm Fergus will conclude what has been an “unsettled weekend of weather for the UK”.

“Fergus will bring some strong winds and heavy rain for a time late on Sunday and into the early hours of Monday morning,” he said. “While the strongest gusts are expected in the Republic of Ireland, Storm Fergus will bring some windy conditions to western areas, including Irish Sea coasts, while also bringing some potentially impactful rain.”

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