Hurricane Ophelia: Thousands lose power as storm hits Ireland – BBC News

Media captionWinds of up to 80mph are expected to hit the UK

Thousands are without power in southern Ireland as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia reach the British Isles.

The Met Office has warned of “potential danger to life”, with winds off the south coast of Ireland reaching 109mph (176km/h) at Fastnet Rock.

In the Republic of Ireland, Met Eireann has issued a red wind warning and the government has deployed the army.

An amber warning for Northern Ireland, west Wales, south west Scotland and the Isle of Man is in force from midday.

A yellow warning of “very windy weather” also covers parts of Scotland, the west and north of England and Wales.

Ophelia is on its way from the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean and it comes 30 years after the UK’s Great Storm of 1987.

The BBC’s Ireland correspondent, Chris Page, said it would be the most severe storm to hit Ireland in half a century.

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Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the “dangerous” storm had reached the southern part of Ireland, where trees are down and more than 20,000 homes are without power.

He said the power will be repaired by ESB Networks when it is safe to do so and advised people to stay indoors until the storm had passed.

The Irish Republic’ s Met Eireann said the storm is forecast to travel north over western parts of Ireland, with “violent and destructive gusts” of 75mph to 93mph (120 km/h to 150km/h) expected countrywide.

“There is a danger to life and property,” a statement said.

The Met Office said there was a “good chance” Northern Ireland could be hit on Monday afternoon by power cuts, flying debris, large waves in coastal areas and disruption to all travel services.

In England, three flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – have been issued in the South West, and there are 13 flood alerts – meaning flooding is possible – across other parts of the country.

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Residents on the outskirts of Dublin are collecting sandbags to protect homes

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Preparations were under way in Galway ahead of the storm

The latest developments are:

  • Many ferries, trains, buses and flights across the island have been cancelled
  • Dublin Airport said up to 130 flights are expected to be cancelled. Ryanair, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Air France, CityJet, Emirates and KLM have all cancelled some flights due to the severe weather
  • Belfast Airport said passengers should check with their airline
  • All schools and further education colleges in North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are closed
  • Northern Ireland’s chief justice has advised the judiciary that all courts should finish by 12:30 BST

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Strong winds have been recorded on the Irish coast

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In the Republic of Ireland, Met Eireann has issued a red wind warning

Former US President Bill Clinton has cancelled a trip to Belfast because of the weather.

It is understood he was due to meet Northern Ireland’s political parties over the current stalemate at Stormont.

Three battalions of soldiers – 1,200 personnel in total – are on permanent standby to deal with major incidents in the UK, but the Ministry of Defence said no specific requests had yet been made of them by local authorities.

Ophelia has been downgraded to a category one hurricane by the US National Hurricane Center and is forecast to continue gradually weakening.

BBC Weather said Monday would be a “day of huge contrasts” with the strong gusts of wind travelling over the Irish Sea and heading north to central and southern Scotland, sparing eastern parts of the UK.

Eastern England is instead expected to enjoy unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures of 22C or 23C on Monday – compared with an average for mid-October of 15C.

Highs of 24C were recorded in the region on Saturday as some parts of the country basked in a “mini heatwave” thanks to warm air brought by Hurricane Ophelia.

Ophelia set the record for the most easterly category three hurricane in the Atlantic.

Category three hurricanes are defined as having wind speeds of between 111mph (179km/h) and 129mph (208km/h) and can cause major damage to well-built homes.

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