Storm Frank is predicted to bring significant rainfall to the Shannon Catchment north of Athlone up to today, Wednesday, December 30, and is likely to result in a further increase in the Shannon’s water levels into the new year, Westmeath County Council has warned.
At the beginning of the week Met Eireann forecasted strong winds, heavy rain, and high tides throughout Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the sixth storm to hit Ireland in recent weeks. Local authorities have warned the incoming storm will lead to flooding in many areas. It is expected that the river will rise by a further 8cm by Saturday, January 2. However, present indications are that the river will not reach the levels recorded in 2009.
The level of the Shannon in Athlone and its hinterland increased gradually throughout the Christmas period. Almost 30 millimetres of rain fell between Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day, as up to 40 people spent the holiday season manning pumps in affected areas. Director of services for Westmeath County Council, Barry Kehoe, has warned that “there is no end in sight” at present for those affected.
Flood defences continue to be reinforced, pumping is ongoing, and accommodation and transport are available as required. Westmeath County Council staff, the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, and local volunteers are continuing to work on a round-the-clock basis to combat the rising water levels.