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Ireland counts the costs of Christmas storms and Storm Surges

As the cost of the worst series of storms in 15 years continues to mount, the Irish Government is facing the potential need to apply to the European Solidarity Fund to support the nation's efforts to repair extensive damage to the island's infrastructure and coastal communities. Over the Christmas period, Ireland lay in the path of a series of strong storms, culminating in three days of high winds and seas dubbed "Storm Christine" by the local media, thought to be the most prolonged and destructive storm experienced in almost two decades.

Wind driven surges combined with high tides to flood portions of Ireland's largest cities, with tidal flooding experienced in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway. Cork city council alone issued over a week of consecutive flood warnings to city centre businesses, as tidal surges refused to abate. Meanwhile, the storm tides allowed high seas to overwhelm coastal defences, damaging and destroying infrastructure particularly on the country's southern and western coasts, and offshore island communities which bore the brunt of the passing storms.

"We have had worse storms in the past in terms of wind, but this time we had high tides as well so the critical factor here has been the combination of all of these weather events; high winds, heavy rain and high seas all together," said Pat Clarke, a forecaster from the Irish Meterological service (Met Eireann).

Met Eireann, other meteorological agencies from around the world, and key oceanic and atmospheric researchers, are key participants meeting at a training course on February 20th, learning how the latest developments in satellite observations can be used to better forecast and understand storm surges. To be held in the National Maritime College of Ireland, the training course is being organised by ESA's eSurge consortium, and is supported by the WMO. for further information contact Ned Dwyer (UCC-Beaufort Research).