Ireland braces for Storm Ellen to bring strong winds

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland braced for damage and flooding on Wednesday after the Irish Meteorological Service warned of “very severe and destructive winds” as Storm Ellen approached the country from the south-west.

A rarely used status red wind warning is in place for the southern county of Cork from 9 p.m. until midnight on Wednesday, with an orange wind warning in place for the other counties in the south and west of the country.

A red warning means there is the potential for widespread gusts of wind in excess of 130 km per hour (80 miles per hour).

The areas likely to be hit hardest are popular with holidaymakers, whose numbers have increased this year as people avoid foreign travel because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The authorities have urged people in mobile holiday homes or on campsites in parts of southwest Cork to seek shelter or find alternative accommodation.

“People should take Storm Ellen seriously - if you’re in a campsite or caravan park, go home or prepare appropriately,” Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said on Twitter.

The unseasonal storm comes as the country’s businesses struggle with the fallout from a surge in coronavirus cases, which led the government to significantly tighten its nationwide restrictions on activity on Tuesday.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker