Hurricane Ophelia is contiuing to strengthen, with satellite images showing a clearly defined eye and remote wind speed measurements indicating that the storm is at the top end of Category 2 and could evolve into a major Category 3 Hurricane over the course of this day. All major weather models are now in agreement that Ireland will be severely affected by Ophelia once she arrives in our waters on Monday morning, regardless of whether we get a direct hit or just a glancing blow. It is uncertain at this point, given the increase in strength, whether the storm will complete its transition from a hurricane, with its clearly defined eyewall and inner structures, to a more disorganised extratropical cyclone before it arrives in Ireland, or whether some of the characteristic features of a hurricane will be intact when it arrives.
With little more than 48 hours to go until expected landfall, it now seems pretty certain that winds along the south and west coast should start picking up at around 0600h, reaching storm force down here in Cork some time between 0900h and 1200h. These winds will then be sustained for most of the day. There is still some disagreement amongst the weather models as to how long those winds are sustained, but we could be looking at gale to storm force winds well into the night and Tuesday morning. The one good thing about all of this is that the worst of the rainfall will be out on Ophelia’s western flank. While Cork will get some heavy rain around lunchtime, most of the really severe rainfall will be well out to sea. That being said, Galway and Mayo are in for some pretty heavy rain during the afternoon by the looks of it.
Met Éireann has issued a Status Red weather warning for the western counties of Ireland, the highest possible category. The rest of the country is covered by a Status Orange warning, both in effect from 9 AM on Monday morning. Please take these warnings seriously, given the continued intensification of the storm it will definitely lead to significant damage from airborne debris and uprooted trees. Widespread power outages in rural areas are highly likely as well at this point. If you’re planning on flying into or out of Cork, Kerry, Shannon or Knock Airports, I recommend you keep a close eye on your airline’s website, and have their customer service number handy. The way I see it, the only thing flying in the west of Ireland on Monday will be trampolines. Also, be extremely careful along waterfronts or coast lines, as waves are expected to be exceptionally high, and a potentially dangerous storm surge will likely cause some sigificant coastal flooding. The advice in my last article stands, please ensure that you have an ample supply of candles, drinking water, as well as batteries for your flashlights at home, and ensure smartphones, power banks and the like are fully charged. It also can’t hurt to have a battery powered radio available, as cell phone coverage might drop over considerable areas of the country.
The situation is still changing, so I’ll issue another advisory tomorrow around lunchtime. By lunchtime on Monday, we’ll know what the deal is one way or the other. There is still a chance that Ophelia might veer off to the west and miss Ireland completely, however, given the storm’s intensity, I’m not optimistic.
As for the header image of that article – I’m sorry, I just HAD to do it 😉