The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia has swept through the Atlantic Ocean and is threatening the small island nation of Ireland. While the hurricane is nowhere near as powerful as its counterparts in the Gulf Stream, such as Harvey, Irma or Maria, its stormy conditions make it dangerous for the Republic of Ireland the United Kingdom. Although hurricanes rarely happen in the UK and Europe, given the cooler climate, Ophelia has already set the record for the most powerful easterly hurricane in the Atlantic. Ophelia is considered to be a Category 3 hurricane upon making landfall earlier today.
Ophelia developed in the Azores and moved steadily to the north-east before reaching the south-west coast of Ireland. It comes 30 years after the storm of 1987 which developed from the remains of Hurricane Floyd and a storm system from the North Sea. It caused extensive damage across the UK and cost hundreds of millions to fix. As such, there is concern about how much destruction will be caused by the storm. It is certainly the most serve storm Ireland has suffered in over 50 years.
The Irish Meteorological Office, the Met Eireann has put out Red warnings due to strong winds and heavy rain, the highest warning ever. The BBC has put out Amber and Yellow warnings of strong winds to the rest of UK, particularly Northern Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. The Met Eireann has warned of “potential loss of life” as wind speeds reached 109mph (176km/h) upon landfall. At the time of writing, 120,000 homes are without warning and Ireland’s Taoiseach (President) Leo Varadkar has deployed the army to prepare for recovery efforts who has declared Ophelia to be a national emergency.
The storm is expected to pass through Scotland by Tuesday evening, but citizens have been ordered to stay in their homes and await further updates. Planes have been grounded with a trip from Bill Clinton canceled in the wake of the storm. Schools on both sides of the Irish border have been closed and residents in Scotland and Wales are busy preparing for the oncoming wind and rain. Various flood alerts have been put out in Wales, Scotland and most of western England while travelers and commuters are warned to drive carefully due to strong winds on the roads.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those in the storm’s path and those who may suffer strong winds and heavy rain elsewhere. We can only hope that the damage isn’t as great as 1987’s Great Storm and that Ophelia passes over quickly.