HURRICANE strength winds and rain lashed the country today.
It was the worst summer storm to hit the east coast in 26 years.
Forecasters compared the horrendous conditions to Hurricane Charlie, which ravaged the capital in 1986.
Dublin city officials were forced to close the flood gates of the river Dodder as winds of up to 110kph battered homes.
The storm hit land in Cork early today where luxury cruise ship the MSC Lirica was unable to dock due to rough seas.
As the hurricane-like winds made their way up the east of the country, the coastguard was pleading with the public to stay away from exposed water areas.
“People are just not used to these conditions. There is no reason to go to these areas,” coastguard official Declan Geoghegan said.
The hurricane-like storm hit land in Cork early today and swept up the eastern side of the country throughout the evening.
The capital was on major flood alert as forecasters warned of "torrential rain" and storm force winds".
Commuters were braced for chaotic driving conditions while several parts of the country were put on flood alert.
Met Eireann warned of "dangerous conditions" with Leinster and Munster expected to be worst affected.
"There will be exceptionally strong winds which will be travelling right up the country today. That, combined with heavy rain and thundery conditions, means it is going to be very, very wet and in some places these conditions will be dangerous, particularly in the East and the South," forecaster Gerry Murphy told the Herald.
And city officials today feared that the extreme weather would spoil the much-anticipated Olympic homecoming ceremony in the capital this evening.
Dublin is set to be lashed by heavy rain and violent winds from this afternoon.
"The high winds, heavy rain and low pressure combined will lead to flooding in places.
"There will be stormforce winds in some places with gusts reaching up to 110kph.
"We would say to people, particularly in coastal areas to be very careful," forecaster Gerry Murphy said.
Met Eireann is forecasting up to 50mm of rain in places.
AA Roadwatch also issued a stark warning to motorists to take extreme care with conditions nationwide being described as "very serious".
"High winds and heavy rain fall are expected, so motorists need to keep that in mind when planning any journeys, particularly when driving in East Leinster and South Munster," a spokeswoman said.
"Reduce your speed and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
"During high winds there is a strong possibility of fallen debris on the roads," she added.
The storms are expected to last well into the evening but will clear by tomorrow morning.
Cross-winds, fallen debris and large amounts of surface water posed serious hazards for motorists and commuters.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that the recent dry weather increased the danger.
RSA CEO Noel Brett said: "After prolonged periods of dry weather there tends to be a build-up of oil and rubber deposit on the road.
""When this deposit mixes with rainwater it increases the risk of a skid and increases your stopping distance.
"Our advice is to slow down and keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you to allow for poor surface conditions."
Cork, Kerry and Waterford were lashed by winds gusting to over 100kph - with an estimated inch (30mm) of rain falling from 7am today. Some areas are expected to receive up to 50mm of rain over the next 24 hours.