Hurricane Ophelia: Remnants of powerful Category 1 storm 'risk to lives', says Met Office

'There is potential risk to lives'

Rachael Revesz
Monday 16 October 2017 07:34
Predicted path of Hurricane Ophelia

Hurricane Ophelia is set to pummel the UK and Ireland with winds of up to 80 mph and cause "potential risk to lives", the Met Office has warned, even as the storm weakens to a Category 1 hurricane.

Ophelia churned across the Atlantic from the Azores towards the UK and hit County Kerry early Monday with hurricane-force winds.

The post-tropical cyclone had intensified over the weekend, making it the farthest east Category 3 hurricane on record for the Atlantic Basin, before weakening and making landfall.

All schools in Ireland are closed for the day and motorists and cyclists have been warned to stay off the roads.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has sent defence forces to areas like Wexford, Galway and Limerick.

He tweeted: "Defence forces being deployed in Red weather alert areas and on standby for further action (on Monday).

"Please check in with older neighbours and those who need medical care."

Aer Lingus has cancelled a number of flights due to the severe weather, while Ryanair and Loganair advised passengers to check their websites for updates.

While the storm may have lost its tropical characteristics due to colder sea-surface temperatures nearer Ireland, its wind field is expected to expand, meaning areas farther from the centre of the storm will be impacted.

Met Eirann has issued a red wind warning for all of Ireland on Monday for sustained winds of more than 50 mph and gusts of up to 80 mph, which could cause structural damage, down trees and power lines.

"Violent and destructive gusts are forecast with all areas at risk and in particular the southwest and south in the morning, and eastern counties in the afternoon,” the warning read. “Also heavy rain and storm surges along some coasts will result in flooding.

"There is potential risk to lives."

The UK Met Office issued an amber wind warning in Northern Ireland. The office indicated possible transport delays but no power outages.

“Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties,” it read. “This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life.”

The Met Office issued a yellow warning for wind across western Scotland, Wales and far western England.

Before Ophelia, Hurricane Frances was the farthest east Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin in 1980.

Some experts have compared Ophelia to Hurricane Debbie in 1961, which killed 12 people in Ireland.

The UK Military of Defence (MOD) has 1,200 soldiers permanently on standby to assist with emergencies.

An MOD spokesman said it has not yet received requests from local authorities.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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