Tuesday 17 October 2017

Hurricane Ophelia 'has strengthened' as it tracks towards Ireland

The projected path of Hurricane Ophelia
The projected path of Hurricane Ophelia

Kathy Armstrong

Hurricane Ophelia has "continued to strengthen" as it tracks towards Ireland, experts have warned.

Ophelia is currently south of the Azores and is expected to bring winds of over 120kph when it hits Ireland on Monday.

Florida-based The National Hurricane Centre said last night that it is gaining strength but it is expected to be downgraded to a post-tropical storm by the time it reaches here but they warned of heavy rain, wind and "dangerous marine conditions."

An NHC spokesperson said: "Ophelia is expected to transition to a hurricane-force post- tropical cyclone by Monday when it moves near Ireland and the United Kingdom.

"While post-tropical Ophelia will likely bring some direct impacts from wind and heavy rain to portions of these areas, as well as dangerous marine conditions, given the forecast uncertainty at these time ranges it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude, timing and location of the impacts. 

"Residents in Ireland and the United Kingdom should monitor the progress of Ophelia for the next several days."

Met Eireann has issued a status yellow weather warning for Ireland until 6am Tuesday as they advised of "potential high-impact events."

They warned: "A combination of a vigorous Atlantic weather system and the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia will pass close to Ireland on Monday, and has the potential to be a high-impact event in parts of the country.

"There is a lot of uncertainty as to the exact evolution and movement of this weather system during the coming four days, but storm-force winds, outbreaks of heavy rain, and very high seas are threatened.

"Met Eireann will maintain a close watch on the evolution and issue further advisories and warnings as these are warranted."

Gerald Fleming, Head of Forecasting at Met Eireann, said that it's uncertain which area of Ireland may bear the brunt of Ophelia.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One, Mr Fleming said: "It's in an unusual position, it's down in the centre of the Atlantic, somewhat south of the Azores, so it's nowhere near the Caribbean or the US, so it's taking a very unusual track to get to us.

"It'll move northwards between the Azores and the Canary Islands, so it looks like it will reach us at some point on Monday, according to the current guidance.

"It seems like it will land on the south-west coast, the Cork and Kerry coasts, but I would have to issue a health warning that it's three to four days away and that track could change significantly in those days.

"We've been looking at the guidance over the last few days and it has been reasonably consistent but we know that if it takes a westerly track it could pass up into the Atlantic harmlessly, that is a possibility but at the moment it's likely that it will come up right over the country."

He also said that it could be a washout few days as heavy rain is predicted.

Mr Fleming said: "It's difficult to know because these tropical cyclones carry an awful lot of moisture, they have a lot of moist air in them and can dump a lot of rain in a short period.

"It will move across the country fairly quick, at the moment it's too early to predict which part of the country will get heavy rain but at the moment we can certainly see heavy bursts of rain as it moved over Ireland."

Mr Fleming added that it is "unusual for us to get hurricanes or ex-hurricanes."

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