Flooding hits Ireland after record August rainfall

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland faced further flooding on Monday after a second successive weekend of torrential summer rain drove people from their homes, blocked road and rail links and threatened to destroy farmers’ crops.

The weather station at Dublin Airport has recorded 177.7 millimeters of rain in the first 17 days of this month, already more than double the August average and quarter of what might be expected in the course of an entire year.

With water tables already high, Ireland’s national meteorological service Met Eireann warned further heavy rain on Monday meant there was a risk of more flooding.

There has been little let up in the poor weather since August 9 when 76.2 millimeters of rain fell on Dublin -- a new record for the month of August and the second highest daily rate of rainfall in any month since records began.

Over 100 people were evacuated from their homes in the south eastern town of Carlow on Sunday after a river burst its banks.

Padraig Cahill, Civil Defence Officer for Carlow County Council, told national broadcaster RTE on Monday that flood waters in the town had been as deep as five feet and that further rain would threaten other homes nearby.

The Irish Farmers’ Association said Ireland’s main crop of 250,000 hectares of winter wheat and spring barley was also at risk because of high water content in the grain, crop damage and fields too water-logged for heavy harvesting machinery.

“Unless we see a rapid and improved turnaround in weather conditions in the next week, growers are looking at severe yield losses,” the IFA said in a statement. The country’s 2 million tonne grain harvest would normally be under way by mid-August.

A landslide partially derailed a train on the Dublin to Cork line on Saturday while flooding in Northern Ireland caused severe delays on the Dublin to Belfast train service on Monday.

Motoring groups warned of road closures across the county. In one area north of Dublin people were having to boil drinking water after another river burst its banks.

In Northern Ireland one of the province’s busiest roads closed after flooding left the Broadway Underpass in Belfast under 6 meters (20 feet) of water.

“The mass flooding we’ve seen in Carlow town, Limerick, Dublin and in Belfast, can almost certainly be related to the changing weather patterns, as predicted by climate change experts,” said Irish Green Party lawmaker Mary White.

A spokesman for the climatology division of Met Eirean said the cyclical nature of weather patterns meant it was too early to make direct links with global warming.

“We’ve always had fluctuations of good, bad and indifferent summers and at the moment we’re having a bad one,” he said.