herald

Sunday 20 October 2019

Wind and rain to batter city Christmas shoppers

Christmas shoppers brave the rain on the capital’s busy Henry Street.
Christmas shoppers brave the rain on the capital’s busy Henry Street.

Heavy rain and strong winds will lash the capital today, hampering a popular pre-Christmas shopping weekend and causing the cancellation of the Wild Lights event at Dublin Zoo.

The zoo said it had decided to cancel the event - which is hugely popular with families - due to "dangerous wind gust speeds" and said the safety of visitors and staff was its priority at all times.

Ticket holders for today's event will be refunded within five working days via the same purchase method, and the zoo said tickets are still available throughout this month and next.

Winds of up to 110kph are expected today, and drivers have been warned of "potentially dangerous" road conditions.

Unscathed

Met Eireann issued two yellow warnings for today, with "severe" weather conditions expected to dampen one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The east and south are set to get the worst of the wind and downpours, but no part of the country is expected to escape unscathed.

Up to 50mm of rain will fall throughout the day, combined with high winds and driving rain affecting roads.

Forecaster Harm Luijkx said those venturing out to do their Christmas shopping needed to keep abreast of any potential upgrade in the two yellow warnings, which he said were "under constant review".

"At the moment we have yellow weather warnings in place but that could change, and if there's new information that could be more severe - it could become an orange warning," Mr Luijkx said.

"Heavy rain will move across the country.

"The winds will be strongest across the east and south and later in the afternoon the strongest winds will be in the east.

"In the morning, the wind will be south-easterly but late in the afternoon it will swing to the west and north-west and there could be gusts of 90 to 110kph."

DublinTown chief executive Richard Guiney said the retail group expects a 20pc drop in footfall across the city due to the weather.

"It's not great timing to have a downpour of rain and strong wind on the second to last Saturday before Christmas," Mr Guiney said.

"This is one of the biggest shopping days of the year for Christmas. Normally, we would see up to around 600,000 to 650,000 shoppers in the city on this day, so it's definitely a shame."

Tens of thousands of motorists are expected to take to the roads, but visibility will be poor and drivers are being warned to watch out for hazards.

Thousands of rugby fans will descend on the capital today to watch the Heineken Cup clash between Leinster and Bath at the Aviva Stadium.

AA Ireland has asked drivers to avoid the area of the stadium due to concerns of major delays.

"We expect a large volume of pedestrian activity and drivers have to be careful," said AA Ireland director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan.

"Cyclists could swerve involuntarily into the road and pedestrians may be affected by the weather. Drivers must slow down and we implore cyclists to be properly lit - it's going to be dark out."

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