Hurricane Ophelia has reportedly killed two people in Ireland as it pounds southerly parts of the country with the most extreme weather it has experienced for decades.
The storm — now officially a post-tropical cyclone — knocked down a tree which hit a woman in her car. According to the Reuters news agency, the woman was in her 50s and has been confirmed dead.
A second victim was a man in his 30s, who wounded himself with a chainsaw while trying to remove a fallen tree from a road in County Tipperary. Police confirmed that he died shortly after.
The Irish government said the storm will cause floods and storm. Powerful winds have been widely recorded, with gusts measured at almost 120mph.
Coastal defences in Galway, on the west coast, were breached and sea water streamed through the streets:
— David Blevins (@skydavidblevins) October 16, 2017
Video on social media also showed a roofs being ripped off buildings.
This one shows the nearby town of Passage West:
— Billy OK (@bingobars) October 16, 2017
While this shows a school in the city of Cork:
— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) October 16, 2017
Cork City’s home football ground, Turners Cross, was also seriously damaged:
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) October 16, 2017
An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s police force, posted several photographs of trees which had been uprooted by the storm.
— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) October 16, 2017
Here’s Ophelia is expected to travel over the course of the day:
— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) October 16, 2017
Irish forecasters warned that the storm was powerful enough to lead to loss of life, and told people in at-risk areas to stay inside their homes to avoid the effects of the storm.
People in County Kerry, the most southwesterly region of Ireland, posted footage to social media on Monday morning which showed trees being thrashed by the wind and flights of birds apparently fleeing:
— Tom Randles (@TomRandles1) October 16, 2017
— Sarah Kavanagh (@sltlk) October 16, 2017
Hospitals across the country cancelled thousands of non-essential procedures because of the bad weather.
Kerry Airport, which is close to the path of the storm, cancelled all flights on Monday and closed completely. Cork Airport, which is slightly further from Ophelia, remained open but still cancelled dozens of flights.
Early windspeed measurements showed extreme highs of 118mph (191kmph) at Fastnet Rock, a small island with a lighthouse 4 miles from the Irish mainland.
On the mainland at Roches Point, County Cork, the wind speed was measured at 97 mph (156kmph).
Met Éireann issued a rare red warning, which means that the storm presents a danger to life. A warning issued early on Monday spelled out the danger in full:
“Violent and destructive gusts are forecast with all areas at risk and in particular the southwest and south in the morning, and eastern counties in the afternoon. Also heavy rain and storm surges across some coasts will result in flooding. There is potential risk to lives.”
The storm is expected to track across Ireland in a north-easterly direction throughout the day, crossing into the British territory of Northern Ireland in the afternoon.
From there it is expected to cross the Irish sea and bring powerful gales to northern parts of England and to Scotland. This graphic from the US National Hurricane Center shows the likely track of the storm:
In the UK, the Met Office weather forecaster issued amber warnings — the second-highest — for Northern Ireland and westerly areas of Wales and Scotland. Less severe “yellow warnings” are in effect over a wider area, including parts of England:
— Met Office (@metoffice) October 16, 2017