Gales cause commuter chaos and leave 12,000 homes without power
HIGH winds left thousands of homes without electricity, caused widespread damage and sparked traffic chaos in the capital today.
An estimated 12,000 homes, mainly in counties Galway, Kerry and Cork lost power because of the weather.
In Dublin, the Eastlink Bridge was closed for around 90 minutes during the morning rush hour when the roof of a nearby hut was blown off.
A mile-long tailback was reported at the Port Tunnel, while buses and cars at one stage taking 45 minutes to travel the 4.5kms.
"A couple of people on my bus started to panic," one commuter told the Herald.
"We were stuck in the one spot for 15 minutes. It took us about 45 minutes to clear the tunnel.
"It would normally take just around ten minutes
"All traffic was diverted onto the quays once you cleared the tunnel. And the congestion was really bad there too."
Traffic backed up shortly after the Eastlink bridge southbound was closed, with AA Roadwatch reporting "very congested" traffic from Seville Place to Guild Street towards Samuel Beckett Bridge.
A garda spokeswoman said the roof of a hut near the Eastlink bridge was blown off and the southbound lanes were closed as a precaution.
Earlier this week, Landsdowne Road DART Station was forced to close after winds blew off a "chunk" of a panel on the Aviva Stadium.
Gardai feared that a second piece, which was blowing in the wind, could have landed on the road or nearby train tracks.
While high winds battered Dublin city, Donegal and the north west were hardest hit, with winds gusting at 120kph.
Thousands of homes in the west and midlands were left without electricity while the added threat of icy roads added to the winter misery.
Eircom said the stormy conditions had taken a toll on services, with some 4,500 reports of network faults yesterday.
Met Eireann said winds of up to gale force 9 would hit the north west today, but would gradually die out for the rest of the country.
Households in many parts of Galway still had power outages today with many homes in Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenney, Wexford, Meath and Kildare without power.
ESB Networks crews were today working to restore electricity supply to around 2,000 customers who were still without power this morning.
"We have had damaging winds earlier in the week and again overnight," a Met Eireann spokesman told the Herald today. "Just now our station in Malin Head is recording winds of 120kph."
The weather will take another turn for the worse tomorrow, with outbreaks of rain and sleet pushing across the country.
Temperatures will drop to -3C at night, leaving many untreated roads icy and dangerous.
The outlook is for more windy and showery weather for the first half of next week.