I awoke to the sound of the howling wind at 4 AM. I think I discerned the collapse of a barrier when the wind’s tone dropped. I rolled over and attempted to get the 2 hours of sleep before the alarm went off; and then rolled over again, and again, and again.
Eventually, at the ringing of the alarm, I arose from my bed and began my day. Little was I to know….
The walk down the path out of our estate was windy but uneventful, but once on the Prom that changed. The overnight storm was still blowing and the morning was as dark as night. The street lights on our end of the Prom have been non-functional for several days — since the last storm. In the dark I could see rocks and sand on the sidewalk, here on the far side of the road, away from the bay. As I approached the intersection, I could see that the road was flooded with water standing up to the top of the curb and in case that was not enough to deter the motorists, the Garda had closed the road by placing their traffic cones across it.
I stood in the shelter of the wall before crossing the road to speak to a couple of fellow bus travelers. We quickly concluded that the bus was not going to arrive; a couple people went home, one up the hill to the stadium end of the bus run, and I decided to walk to Salthill at the the other end of the Prom. My other options were to walk uphill into the howling wind to try to catch a different bus, or across the wind and up a steeper hill to try to catch the same bus in a different place.
With the wind at my back it was a fairly quick walk down the Prom, past the football sized rocks and slippy seaweed to the Salthill Hotel, where the storm had created an inland sea in the hollow on the lea side of the road. I could not cross the road as the water seemed to go all the way to the ocean and I could not continue as the water was rather deep. I backtracked to a lower section of wall, climbed up and walked down it until I came back to the hotel car park where I then dropped back down to the solid ground. I walked across the car park to the entrance furthest from the ocean and discovered that the new inland sea was lapping at that exit. I made my escape and moved further inland to the next road that would take me further east.
The road was dark, though there were a few street lights burning, but I was confident that the lack of automotive traffic would keep me safe. When I achieved the end of the road, a tee-junction at a park, I could see the new inland sea to my right blocking my exit to the Prom road. I could also see the sea at the south end of the park, so I moved across the north end of the park and made my way to the bandstand. Here I saw what looked to be a swimming marker float from the bay — one the triathletes use to mark the 750 meters from the diving board — several rescue style surf boards and several regular surf boards, one of which was in pieces. There was also a line of flotsam and seaweed deposited along the shore of the new sea.
I walked back north so that I could exit the park and walk back south to the Prom. When I achieved the corner at the Prom road — a point I have mentioned in the past as being the windiest place on the Prom — I turned the corner and headed into Salthill. The shop on the corner was flooded and the alarms were ringing. The next shop had the door smashed in, the following shop too. The wind here was so strong as to make me worry about losing my footing. In front of me was a car, facing the wrong way, and resting on a pile of flotsam and jetsam, large rocks lay strewn about the road and walkways.
The sidewalk was blocked on my side by high water so I moved across to the other side of the road and as I passed a van a huge wind blew in and the sky opened up with another deluge. I sheltered behind the van and discovered that, except for my feet and ankles, I was unaffected by the rainfall thanks to the wind. I was wondering how long I would have to wait for the wind and rain to drop enough to allow me to move on when a city bus came by. I ran out into the weather to catch it; in the process my entire back side was drenched by the wind-blown rain.
Thus my tale of a dark and stormy morning ends in a warm bus on the way to work. We picked up other brave (foolish) souls and had great conversation about weather and current flooding and the route the bus would take into the city. The way home that evening was not as eventful but still difficult as the bus was not running the full route and I had to return by much the same route.