30/11/2007

Huge Waves Likely As Gales Lash Ireland

There's a major weather alert this weekend as the west coast of Ireland may be set to experience some of the highest waves seen in years.

Both the Irish Marine Institute and Met Éireann have warned the conditions - particularly on Saturday afternoon - will be so bad as to be hazardous to ships and fishing vessels.

It will also be dangerous for those walking close to the shoreline, or fishing from the shore in exposed areas.

The Irish weather office warned that waves of up to 14 metres (45') in height are possible along the whole west coast tomorrow afternoon. They said that the last time waves of this size were recorded was on January 17th, 2005.

"Similar conditions could occur this weekend if the weather systems develop as predicted," a spokesman for the Marine Institute said.

"When a broad area of very low pressure sits in the Atlantic to the north of Ireland, as will happen on this Friday and Saturday, waves are able to build over a considerable distance - which could lead to these extreme waves arriving in Irish waters."

Met Éireann itself issued a gale warning at 4am on Friday that southwest winds will reach gale force on coasts from Fair Head to Carnsore Point to Valentia and the Irish Sea.

It also said westerly gales or strong gales will develop tonight on all Irish coastal waters.

Met Eireann and the Marine Institute said all ships and anyone close to the shoreline "should take great care, especially on Saturday".

Dr Glenn Nolan, of the Marine Institute, said: "It's quite unusual. The last time we would have had waves close to this height would have been in early 2005 and before that in 2000.

"It's not something that occurs on an ongoing basis."

Dr Nolan warned that the entire west coast, from Cork up to Donegal and round into the Irish Sea, would be affected.

(BMcC)

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