Hurricane Ophelia could cause €1.5bn in damage - expert analyst
Hurricane Ophelia could cause up to €1.5bn worth of damage to Ireland according to a leading disaster analyst.
Ophelia, which is set to be one of the most powerful storms to reach Ireland in over 50 years, will reach winds speeds of up to 150kmph in parts of the country.
The hurricane is expected to cause power outages as well as disruption to businesses, and is estimated to cause €1.5bn in damage.It had previously been estimated to cost around €676m in damage, but this figure has been more than doubled due to the storm's intensity holding up over night.
Chuck Watson, a disaster modeller with the Enki Research Centre in Savannah, Georgia, said that the storm is comparable to Hurricane Debbie which wrecked havoc when it struck in 1961.
"People with longer memories will remember Hurricane Debbie in 1961 which at the time caused $41m (€34m) worth of damage. It’s a baseline and used as a reference.
"If that same storm hit today, it would cost close to $900m (€761m) in damage, with inflation, growth and development," he said.
"Overnight/this morning Ophelia took a jog to the left and held a bit more intensity than forecast yesterday, so the impacts to Ireland will potentially be a bit worse than had the storm stayed on the forecast course.
The current estimate is for $1.8 Billion (€ 1.5 billion) in impacts, about half of that as physical damage and the rest as economic disruptions to government, business, etc," he told Independent.ie.
In addition to the potential damage Hurricane Ophelia could cause to Ireland, it is estimated that the massive storm will cost the UK in the region of $300m (€253m) worth of damage.
The estimated costs can vary, depending on which unit of model is used to measure the hurricane."
The current forecast (yesterday), it depends on which computer model you use. The US model is forecasting more damage than the current EU Model.
"The UK Met Office, their model is estimating $600m (€507m) in impact. I you use the American hurricane measurement it will be over a $1bn (€850bn)," Mr Watson said.
In comparison, the damages caused by Hurricane Ophelia when it struck Puerto Rico more than three weeks ago is currently in the region of $45bn (€38bn) in damage.
"Puerto Rico was a totally different level of magnitude, right now it’s above $45bn (€38m). GDP is a good way to measure the worst perceivable impact of Ophelia on Ireland, including all business stoppages and everything you can think of.
"Something like 25-30pc GDP impact was caused to Puerto Rico, where in Ireland this is expected to be around 1pc. A lot of businesses in the south coast will close down for a day or two, for example retail, but will open again.
"You have to be careful about calculating impacts because a lot of them over time are smooth," Chuck Watson added.