15 January 2015

Status Red!

We were warned for the past few days that we'd be getting a storm with high winds coming in from the Atlantic. Met Eireann set the warning status at orange, which is the intermediate level, with yellow being the lowest and red being the highest. Yesterday they changed it to red for exposed coasts and mountainous regions in several counties, including Mayo, suggesting that people could expect sustained winds of 80 km/h with gusts between 130-150 km/h. They urged people to stay home and asked local authorities to consider closing schools today because of the potential for very high winds overnight and into this morning.

Yesterday morning there was snow on the ground from the night before.
That soon melted as things warmed up and the precipitation changed to sleet and hail. By afternoon the wind was picking up and by evening it was really howling out there. It was wild and made all kinds of sounds as it whipped things around. It really does sound like a train at times. Our deck has metal railings and as the wind whipped around, we could hear the railings making noise--it was like the wind was playing an instrument.
We made sure our headlamps had batteries and the phone was charged. We made coffee and put it in our insulated stainless steel mugs in case we lost power. After that coffee was gone, I boiled some water in the kettle and filled them again, wrapping them in socks and a thick wool cowl and then placing them in the microwave--I figured with all of that insulation, the water would stay pretty warm and would allow us to have coffee or tea this morning if the power went out last night.

Our walls are more than a foot thick and this was not the first time I have really appreciated that fact. If I lived in a different kind of building, I would have been nervous. I would not have been surprised to lose power, as was happening to many around the country, but we didn't. I went to bed around 12:30 and was just drifting off to sleep when I heard the sound of water gushing nearby. I thought we'd sprung a leak or something, so I jumped out of bed and went to investigate. All was well. The water was pouring off of the roof outside and the wind was blowing it around, but it was staying outside. One of the first things we noticed when we got here was that there is a little lip all the way around the opening where the door sits--both sides, top, and bottom. We had to get used to stepping up and over the bottom lip. I realized it was probably because of wind, but I wonder if it has something to do with the rain, too. If the bottom of the door frame had been like the ones we had in the US (except Alaska, where they built for the cold), we would have had rain coming in under the door, I think.

I must say that I am pretty impressed with ESB, the electricity people. They are definitely no Eircom style company--they actually do a really good job. This afternoon there are still 16,000 people without power and that really is not bad. It stinks if you're one of the 16,000, I know, but this was some big wind and I would've expected that number to be much higher.

Apparently the storm was moving north of Ireland, so we got the southern edge, and Donegal, in the north, got hit the worst, although it sounds like Co Galway got hit pretty bad, too. It's heading straight for Scotland, where they can expect hurricane force winds. Keep your fingers crossed for the folks there!



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