Ireland and UK brace for impact of Hurricane Ophelia

Hurricane Ophelia

:: The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia could bring 80 mile an hour (130 kilometer an hour) wind gusts, disruption and damage to Ireland and Britain as the work week gets underway, weather services said Sunday.

Ophelia weakened from a Category 2 to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday as it moved north-northeast across the Atlantic, with sustained winds of 90 mph (145 kph.)

It is expected to be downgraded to a post-tropical storm before hitting land in southern Ireland Monday morning, but UK Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said it could still pack “hurricane force” winds.

Ireland’s Met Eireann weather service said the country’s southern and western counties could get gusts of up to 80 mph (130 kph) along with heavy rain and storm surges.

The US National Hurricane Center said the storm could bring 2 to 3 inches (50 mm to 75 mm) of rain in western Ireland and Scotland, with coastal flooding and “large and destructive waves” where it makes landfall.

Emergency officials in Ireland said schools would be closed Monday in the eight counties expected to see the strongest winds and under a red weather alert, the highest level. Cyclists and motorists were warned to stay off the roads during the height of the storm.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Defense forces being deployed in Red weather alert areas and on standby for further action tomorrow.”

Dublin and Shannon airports advised passengers to check flight information before traveling, while Cork airport in southwest Ireland said cancelations were likely.

Britain’s Met Office said 80-mile-an-hour gusts could hit Northern Ireland — part of the UK — and warned of potential power cuts, flying debris and disruption to transport and phone signals. Strong winds could also hit Scotland, Wales and England.

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