More than 1,000 troops on standby as forecasters warn Hurricane Ophelia’s 80mph winds will ‘pose a danger to life’
16 OCTOBER 2017 • 2:36AM
The Atlantic hurricane set to hit the UK with 80mph gusts of wind will pose a “danger to life” on the anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987, the Met Office has warned.
Forecasters are keeping a close eye on the arrival of tropical storm Ophelia, which is set to strike western and northern areas of England, southern Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday. Meanwhile, southern and eastern parts of England look set to bask in warm Autumn sunshine.
The disruption will invoke memories of the Great Storm of 1987 on the 30th anniversary of the extreme weather event that resulted in the loss of 22 lives.
More than 1,000 troops are on standby to deal with any trails of destruction left behind by the ex-hurricane, which strengthened to a category three storm on Saturday prompting the Met Office to issue severe weather alerts.
Those living in affected areas are being advised to “tie down garden furniture” and be wary of flying debris, with traffic chaos and power cuts also expected.
Airports were advising passengers in Ireland to check the latest information, with a number of Aer Lingus flights cancelled due to severe weather and the prospect of further cancellations with other carriers.
All schools and colleges in the Republic of Ireland will close for the day as fears mount over the damage the storm could wreak.
Meanwhile, large parts of southern and eastern England will see temperatures rocket, with highs of 24C in some areas meaning it could get as warm as Athens and Sicily.
This is due to the storm drawing up warm air from Spain on its eastern flank, and is not far short of the UK record for October set in 2011 when temperatures fell just short of 30C.
In issuing an amber warning in Northern Ireland between 3pm and 10pm on Monday, the Met Office said it could result in the cancellation of rail, air and ferry services.
It also said: “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.”
Met Office chief forecaster Steve Ramsdale also said that yellow wind warnings, which were first issued on Thursday, will cover Northern Ireland and western and northern Britain from noon on Monday until midnight.
Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, also said: “We are certainly advising people in affected areas to tie down their garden furniture.”
The Republic of Ireland’s Met Office has also issued a red warning for Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford.
Hurricane Ophelia, which developed southwest of the Azores, is the farthest east that a major hurricane has ever been in the Atlantic. The previous record was held by Frances in 1980.
Follow the hurricane’s path
Despite no longer being classified as a hurricane, it still has sufficient energy to cause problems with very strong winds and heavy seas.
The RNLI has also urged those wanting to see the waves crashing against the western coastline of Britain to steer clear of situations which could endanger their life.
Matt Crofts, a lifesaving manager with the RNLI, said: “The severe weather which is due to hit parts of the UK and Ireland early next week could make our seas particularly dangerous and unpredictable, with large waves and swells being a major risk.
“Stormy conditions may be tempting to watch but big waves can easily knock you off your feet. The sea is far more powerful than you think and your chances of survival are slim if you are dragged into the swell.
“Our volunteer lifeboat crews will always launch to rescue those in danger at sea, but to launch into conditions like these could also put their lives at risk.”
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