The extremely warm and humid weather of the last two weeks has included intense localised periods of thunder and lightning. The full power of such thunder and lightning was unleashed last Thursday evening and Friday morning when severe flash floods were recorded in various parts of the Upper Mulkear Catchment covering counties Limerick and Tipperary.
Amongst the worst hit areas was the village of Doon. The picturesque east Limerick village was hit badly by a thunder and lightning storm on Thursday of last week (24 July 2014) which resulted in a torrential downpour. While lasting a mere two hours it casused severe damage to parts of the village and the surrounding hinterland. Several roads in the area were closed – some of which remain closed. Particularly badly hit were the houses within the Glasha Talann retirement settlement and the nearby local cemetery. Clean-up work has continued all week to help ensure all is put right.
Aside from the damage to people’s homes and business, the real damage was done by swollen rivers and streams with unbelievable damage to roads, bridges, culverts and land adjoining rivers.
Particularly badly hit were tributaries of the Bilboa and Gortnageragh rivers. While the thunder and lightning activity was very localised, these rivers and smaller tributaries, which were barely flowing in the days before the flash floods, were feed from the considerable catchment of the Slievefelim, Knockastanna, Mother and Gortnageragh mountains.
The rivers and streams in the Upper Mulkear Catchment are important nursery and spawning grounds for MulkearLIFE’s target species and especially Atlantic Salmon and trout. The extent of the damage caused is still being actively assessed but it is clear that thousands of tonnes of material has been eroded into the Mulkear system.
While this is a natural river process, there is the potential that such suspended solids, which have discoloured the Mulkear River for the past five days, could negatively impact on recent sea lamprey spawning activity.
Potentially more serious is the impact of the flash floods on fish passage at bridges and culverts. Several bridges have been made impassable. Coupled with this, the erosion of river beds, where river beds have been lowered considerably, have created barriers to migration at scouring points under bridges and culverts.
It is likely that over the next number of days further suspended solids and others material with be brought down into the rivers with the predicted heavy rain. This will cause further discolouration of the Mulkear River and its tributaries as silt, clay, sand and gravel are washed into stream and rivers.
MulkearLIFE / IFI will continue to work with project partners and colleagues over the coming days and weeks to address the vast impact of these falsh floods on the Upper Mulkear Catchment.
All Images Ruairí Ó Conchúir (MulkearLIFE / IFI)