Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland to be hit by 80mph winds

By Victoria O'Hara

Weather experts are warning of 80mph winds battering Northern Ireland today as the tail of Hurricane Katia hits the UK.

The severe weather warning -an amber alert - was issued by the Met Office last night as the hurricane approached the British Isles.

The forecasters warned that as Hurricane Katia travels closer, Ireland, along with England and Scotland, will be lashed by severe conditions over the next 24 hours.

The gales, combined with heavy rain, could cause "significant disruption" for anyone travelling today.

Households across the country along with other parts of the UK have been warned to brace themselves for flash flooding, fallen trees and structural damage.

Experts have played down comparisons to the Great Storm of 1987 in which 18 people died in the UK.

But as the bad weather approaches, Met Office chief forecaster, Eddie Carroll, urged people to keep up to date with forecast warnings.

"There's still a fair amount of uncertainty about the track and strength of the winds," he said.

Post-tropical storm Katia is expected to bring the risk of severe gales and storm force winds in places - the high winds and rain are expected to start to ease off in the first half of the week.

A Met Office spokesman said: "The remains of Hurricane Katia will move eastwards across northern Scotland during Monday, bringing a spell of very windy weather to the UK and also heavy rain to western Scotland.

"The strongest winds are expected to affect parts of Northern Ireland during the morning, before moving east across central and southern Scotland and into northeast England by evening.

"However, areas further south will not be immune, with the potential for strong gusts, particularly to the east of high ground."

Katia is the 11th hurricane of the season, following Irene, which caused extensive damage on the US east coast.

The 12th, Lee, is barrelling into the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Background

Katia is the second major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season and was rated as a category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale at its peak.

Weather experts warn the most exposed areas of the country could be hit by 50ft waves.

The last full-blown hurricane to hit the British Isles was Hurricane Charley in 1986.

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