After a week looking on, West finally feels the force of the blizzard

Like fading divas on an operatic stage, it has been a strange, although welcome, feeling this week not be the default centre of attention when it comes to adverse weather in this country. For the best part of two decades now, the west has been the owner of the weather monopoly.

If a rogue tide or a heavy gust of wind was spotted on the map at all, we were sure it was coming our way.

It was as if global warming, like those who espouse its existence, consider Mayo and the west its home. Flooding, high winds, icy roads, whatever it seemed, always seemed to have a sequel in Mayo or Galway. Galway in particular became a centre for weather tourism. High tides, yay hay, cue driving a Mini through the waves or going for a quick swim in Ophelia to get your Speedo-ed butt on Sky News.

It is no surprise to us anymore to see our streets and fields and roads flooded every year; to see trees falling across the roads. Living here on the exposed west coast of a rock on the edge of the Atlantic, we cannot express any surprise at this, because it is our choice to live here.

And because of this, it has been strange sitting under blue skies this week in the west when the newspapers and airwaves are full of news about deteriorating conditions just a few hours up the road.

Of course at time of writing this, that is the picture in Mayo and Galway. It is actually warm inside the glass of the window, the skies are blue, but the blizzard is on the way. By the time of reading, the expected snow will probably be here, with high gusts. Roads and footpaths will be slippery, our time may have come.

The respite thus far has been welcome, because it is not as easy to live in the rural parts of this country if access is denied to the most vulnerable for the most basic of provisions.

Those of us who consider ourselves surefooted should look in on those who are not; ensure that they have all the medications they require, all the fuel they require and enough food and sustenance to sustain them until this bout leaves us late next week. Make sure too that their phones are working and charged in case they need your help. Programme your number into their devices so that they can contact you. Make people feel wanted. Make them feel alive, so that they can stay alive.

On the day that Storm Ophelia struck this country, several people died needlessly. For those who live in areas where the advice is to stay indoors, stay indoors. There is nothing that is as important as maintaining your life.

Be mindful too of the difficult tasks that lie ahead for our emergency services. Frontline staff will be on duty to mind us all over the next few days. Do not make their task any more difficult by being reckless and irresponsible.

If conditions deteriorate to the point of being asked to stay inside, pay heed.

For a whole generation of Irish kids, snowfall on this scale is unprecedented. The countryside looks beautiful when coated with this fine dust, a snow that is different to what we are normally accustomed to.

But the pretty picture contains hidden dangers. Stay safe and do all you can to ensure others do as well. Let’s make sure we get through all this to enjoy the fine weather that is just around the corner in the weeks and months to come.



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