IRELAND will be pummelled by Hurricane Katia from tomorrow night as forecasters warned of winds up to 160kmh causing building damage, coastal flooding, uprooted trees and transport chaos.
Met Eireann was last night considering issuing a severe weather warning today after putting out an advisory yesterday.
"This is on the way and it is a significant storm," Met Eireann forecaster Gerry Murphy said last night.
"It is moving close to us and will generate very strong winds and high waves off the west coast."
Met Eireann has predicted winds of up to 160kmh, with the north seeing the worst winds and sea flooding in Donegal Bay -- as well as Galway Bay and the Shannon estuary and other harbours -- caused by 15-metre waves out in the Atlantic strengthening storm tides.
Britain's Met Office issued a rare extreme weather alert covering all of Ireland, warning of 130kmh winds on Monday causing sea flooding and "phenomenal" ocean conditions expected to cause danger to ships.
Experts said winds were expected to hit 130kmh in Dublin and 105kmh in Cork and warned of damage to house and building roofs and trees, adding that driving could be "very dangerous", especially in the west. Tornados are also a possibility.
Katia, a Category One hurricane with 145kmh winds, is causing seven-metre waves on the US coast before spinning across the Atlantic through the weekend.
iWeather Online Senior Forecaster Peter O’Donnell said: “If you live in Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Derry, north Antrim or nearby parts of other counties, and not in some deep valley with hills off to your southwest, you should expect storm or hurricane force wind gusts between six am and 3pm on Monday.
If you live in a region including most of Ulster, Leinster north and west of Dublin, or west Munster, you should be on alert for gusts between gale and storm force in a slightly later time frame. If you live in the southeast, you may be off the hook for now.
The giant storm is carrying 145kmh winds across a 160km-wide centre and tropical storm force winds across a 800km-wide area, with experts expecting only a slight easing before it crashes into the north of Ireland tomorrow night.
Hurricanes can cause huge damage after crossing the Atlantic, as was seen in August 1986, when Hurricane Charley battered Ireland, causing the worst flooding in a century and smashing rainfall records.
Katia's wind gusts are well above the 117kmh speed required for a ranking of hurricane force, meaning it is expected to cause "excessive damage", with sea conditions considered "phenomenal".
The Met Office's alert for Ireland warned of widespread damage to buildings, uprooted trees and transport disruption, saying: "The remains of Hurricane Katia are expected to arrive on Monday, bringing very windy weather.
"The public should be aware of the risk of disruption to transport and of the possibility of damage to trees and structures.
"There remains uncertainty about its track, and warning areas may be extended or upgraded to amber, but the best estimate is that northern and western parts are most at risk from very strong winds."
Met Eireann forecaster David Rogers said: "Hurricane Katia will make the transition into the northern half of the country which will be the windiest -- and weather warnings are a possibility and under review."
- Alistair Grant and Allison Bray