Belfast Telegraph

Met Office: ex-hurricane was worst storm to hit NI since 1961

By Angela Rainey

Ophelia was the worst storm to hit Northern Ireland since 1961 when Hurricane Debbie killed 18 people - 16 in the Republic and two in Northern Ireland.

Violent gusts of wind of just under 100mph ripped through Ireland after Ophelia made landfall at 9.40am when the wind and rain arrived on the south coast, hitting Cork, Kerry and Waterford, before tracking north throughout the day and leaving no county unscathed.

The 'ex-hurricane' passed from below the Azores islands near Portugal, losing its status as a hurricane as it travelled and was downgraded to a severe storm when it hit the west of Ireland yesterday.

Helen Chivers, spokesperson for the Met Office in London, said the storm was not unusual for this time of year but it clearly posed a significant danger.

She said: "It was not classed as a hurricane but the speeds and force of the wind was comparable to one.

"An amber warning was issued because of the strength of the gusts which posed a danger across Ireland.

"We have had storms like this before in the past where some of the recent winds in the UK were recorded as 80mph.

"Storms of such speeds are not uncommon for this time of year but what is unusual is that this ex-hurricane has come up from the Tropics."

Met Eireann said Hurricane Debbie had followed a "similar route" making it very powerful.

A spokesperson for the organisation added: "The tail end of hurricanes often affect Britain and Ireland, but usually by the time they reach us they will have lost most of their power.

"Ophelia is unusual because hurricanes would usually come from America or the Caribbean, whereas this one is coming from the southwest, below the Azores.

"It's worth noting that Hurricane Debbie also came from this unusual direction and source region."

Ophelia reached the UK and Ireland exactly 30 years after the storm of 1987 killed 18 people in Great Britain.

The cyclone killed 18 people and caused an estimated £1 billion of damage when it struck the south of England three decades ago.

Belfast Telegraph

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