Ex-Ophelia lashes Ireland with 130 km/h winds, heavy rain

October 16, 2017 — History-making Hurricane Ophelia has prompted warnings for Ireland and parts of the United Kingdom as it hurries toward the British Isles.

Warnings are in effect for Ireland and parts of the United Kingdom as the remnants of history-making Hurricane Ophelia begins its assault on the British Isles, where forecasters are warning of damaging winds, power outages, and potential flooding.

The now ex-hurricane Ophelia set the record for easternmost category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin before becoming officially post-tropical late Sunday night. As of the last advisory issued by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the storm still sported maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h.

By noon Monday, local time, airports across Ireland were reporting winds gusting as high as 130 km/h. Ireland's national weather service, Met Éireann, called Ophelia the strongest storm to affect the island in 50 years, comparing it to 1961's Storm Debbie, which killed 18 people.

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The storm has also drawn Saharan sand as far north as the island nation, which made for a surreal sunrise on Monday morning.

Ireland's weather service, Met Éireann, issued its strongest level of warning in advance of the storm - a status red wind warning for winds that blankets the entire country. In their warning, the service warns residents to expect structural damage, disruption to services, and dangerous marine conditions with high seas and flooding storm surge.

The United Kingdom's Met Office has likewise issued warnings for the storm, which comes exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed at least 22 people in England and France. The weather agency has issued wind warnings for parts of Northern Ireland, and the entire west coast from the Scotland Highlands to Cornwall.

"Longer journey times and cancellations are likely, as road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected as well as some bridge closures," the Met Office said in their warning. "There is a good chance that power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage. Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life."

Ophelia formed in the North Atlantic last week, becoming a full hurricane on Wednesday. Ophelia is the 15th named storm of the season, and the 10th consecutive storm to reach hurricane status - the first in this long list was Hurricane Franklin, which formed at the beginning of August. It is also the sixth hurricane to reach or exceed Category 3 status in this 2017 season.

Check back for updates on this developing system.

Sources: Irish Times| Met OfficeMet Éireann

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