Hurricane Ophelia to strike Ireland Sunday

Hurricane Ophelia is forecast to reach Ireland on Sunday night. Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Oct. 15, 2017 (UPI) — Hurricane Ophelia is forecast to strike western Ireland as a strong post-tropical cyclone Sunday night, forecasters said.

“The nature of the extreme weather conditions are expected to be comparable with or perhaps to exceed, those of Hurricane Debbie in 1961 when 11 deaths occurred with a similar type storm,” Seán Hogan, national director for Ireland’s fire emergency management, said in report by the Irish Times.

The National Emergency Coordination Group said power outages are likely to occur in parts of Ireland.

Ophelia, which weakened after becoming a Category 3 storm Saturday, is the easternmost major hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin.

“In last 40 to 50 years, this is the first time we’ve seen storm of this magnitude in this location in the northeast Atlantic,” David Zelinsky, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center, said to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The NHC in Miami is monitoring the system, but has handed off responsibility for tracking the storm to the Irish and British meteorological services.

The storm is listed on the far northeast portion of its Atlantic map, which doesn’t even show Britain.

In its 11 a.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ophelia was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 90 mph. It was traveling north-northeast at 38 mph and was 635 miles east-northeast of The Azores off the coast of Portugal.

The NHC forecasts the center of the post-tropical cyclone will approach Ireland on Monday morning, but “strong winds and rains should begin earlier.”

Then, it will spread inland across Ireland into Monday night, eventually reaching Scotland, the NHC said.

“Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains are often up to 30 percent stronger than the near-surface winds indicated in this advisory, and in some elevated locations could be even greater,” the NHC said.

The Irish meteorological center Met Eireann issued a status red for western Ireland. It said the storm system could bring sustained winds of 80 mph, “potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with dangerous marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding.”

Ophelia is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 2 to 3 inches with isolated totals near 4 inches through Tuesday across western Ireland and Scotland. Across eastern Ireland, rainfall amounts will average around 1 inch.

Ophelia developed last Monday out of a decaying cold front that had stalled over the North Atlantic in early October.

The storm is the 10th consecutive storm to grow to hurricane strength this year, tying a record set in the late 1880s.


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