As strange as it sounds, a hurricane is headed towards Ireland. Hurricane Ophelia could impact that country Sunday night into Monday. Tropical systems are extremely rare, but not unheard of in that part of the world. But it is a very rare event. From 1851 to 2010, only 10 post-tropical storms, have hit within 200 miles of Ireland. Hurricane Debbie was the only tropical hurricane to make landfall in the area. It brushed the far northwest portion of the British Isles in 1961.
Hurricane Ophelia is part of a historic 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The last ten tropical storms have reached hurricane strength. The last time that happened was 1893. It’s also the 6th major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic season, tied with 1933, 1911, 1964, and 2002 for the most major hurricanes through October 14th. And Ophelia is making history of its own. At 26.6 degrees west, it’s the farthest east a major hurricane has ever existed on record.
As of midday Saturday, the storm is 1500 miles to the southwest of Ireland. It’s tracking quickly to the northeast at 25 mph. Sustained winds are 115 mph with gusts up to 140 mph.
The current path has the center of the storm tracking over parts of the west coast of Ireland. The Irish Meteorological Service has already issued their highest possible weather warning, “Status Red”. It is expected to weaken Sunday as it approaches Ireland. By Monday, it will transition into a post-tropical cyclone, called an “ex-hurricane” in Ireland. But the system will still be strong enough to bring high winds, heavy rain, and stormy conditions to Ireland. The west coast and northern portions of the country will be hit the hardest. Sustained winds are expected to be near 50 mph, while gusts could easily reach 80 mph.
The impacts could be significant for Ireland. Winds could cause structural damage. High surf and heavy rains could result in coastal flooding. Large waves will create dangerous marine conditions. There could also be power outages, along with disruption of rail, air, and ferry services. Mobile phone coverage could also be affected. The exact track, timing, and magnitude of the storm is still uncertain. Officials are urging residents in Ireland and the United Kingdom, to closely monitor the progress of Ophelia, and take appropriate action to prepare for the storm.
For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Matt Monroe