Tuesday 19 February 2019

Heatwave sending us into meltdown

Alison Brady, Caitlin Barry and Abby Ryan, from Crumlin, at the Forty Foot. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Agency
Alison Brady, Caitlin Barry and Abby Ryan, from Crumlin, at the Forty Foot. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Agency
A workman repairs a section of melting road. Photo: Paul Mealey
Fiona Maguire, Tara Sullivan and Meg Brennan also at the Forty Foot. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Agency

Road temperatures soared above 40C on Dublin's M50 yesterday , as melting tar forced councils to carry out emergency repairs.

Local authorities have been forced to lay fresh chipping onto local and regional roads as the blazing sun pushed road temperatures to more than 50C in parts of the country.

It came on a day where temperatures topped 30C in some places, with no sign of the heatwave abating.

In fact, the mercury is set to rise even further today and tomorrow, building on the 31C high recorded at Shannon Airport yesterday.

Road temperatures are typically 10C to 15C higher than air temperatures, but can exceed this in some cases.

The highest road temperature around Dublin was on the M50 near the airport, at 41C, while the highest recorded road temperature was 51.7C on the N3 in Kells, Co Meath.


Councils in Mayo, Sligo and Galway were forced to spread chipping as melting tar impacted on the network. No roads around Dublin were affected.

The national network, comprising motorways and heavily-trafficked roads, was not affected, as these roads are designed to withstand extremes of temperature.

However, local and regional roads were hit, with works carried out around Castlebar in Mayo, near Ballisodare in Sligo, and in parts of Connemara.

"The primary concerns are the local and regional roads which are chip and tar, and the local authorities are dealing with issues there by adding additional chip materials," said a Transport Infrastructure Ireland spokesman.

"It's common that this work is done - however, more is being done because of the duration of these high temperatures.

"Local authorities are doing it as the need arises."

Meanwhile, the amount of water in storage to serve the Greater Dublin Area is 20pc below target, it has emerged.

Some 160 days of water is available for extraction from the Pollaphuca Reservoir in Co Wicklow. There should be 200 days available at this time of year.

It comes as Irish Water customers in Longford, parts of Kilkenny, Athlone and north Dublin have experienced outages or been forced to endure restrictions due to increased demand and a lack of supply.

While demand has stabilised in the Greater Dublin Area, it is still "critically high" and putting enormous pressure on the system.

Irish Water can produce 610 million litres of water a day, but 603 million litres have been used in the last 24 hours. This is a slight drop from 609 million litres earlier this week.

The lack of 'headroom' means that if a pipe bursts or there is a problem in a treatment plant, supply will not be able to match demand.


The utility's Drought Management Team is meeting daily, monitoring water supplies and demand around the country.

The public has been urged to conserve where possible, to avoid using a hose to water the garden or wash cars, avoid filling paddling pools to the brim and to take showers, not baths.

The mass exodus to the beach and seaside attractions continued yesterday as temperatures soared - and it will be more of the same today.

"The next two days it is going to be as warm, if not warmer," Met Eireann told the Herald.

While breezes were keeping the east coast of the country relatively cooler, it reached 27.9C in Phoenix Park.

Forecasts for today suggest highs of 30C, while tomorrow could reach 32C in places, close to the hottest temperatures on record for the country.

In 1887, temperatures reached 33.3C in Kilkenny.

Dublin Fire Brigade was yesterday called to forest fires in the Dublin Mountains while the Department of Agriculture issued a status red warning for forest fires.

Yesterday Met Eireann said a status yellow heat warning will remain in place until tomorrow.

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