Belfast Telegraph

Storm Ophelia: Why the difference in weather warnings between Northern Ireland and Republic?

By Jonathan Bell

There was much confusion on Sunday over why two different weather warnings were in place in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Sunday saw Met Eireann, the Republic's forecaster put in place a red warning - its highest - as Storm Ophelia approached the west coast of Ireland.  Galway Mayo, Sligo and Donegal are all expected to be hit hardest on Monday with winds predicted between 120 (74mph) and 150km/h (93mph).

However, the Met Office upgraded its yellow warning to amber on Sunday morning. It is in place from noon until 10pm, with winds expected around 80mph. Many took to social media, asking how there could be a difference given the weather doesn't recognise a border.

"We should be less focused on the colour of the warning as opposed to the message they carry. They both say there is a potential risk to life," the Met Office's John Wylie told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It should be noted in the south they are expecting strong winds for longer across a wider area."

The weather forecaster said there would be no difference in the weather, but rather how the two different organisations interpret the storm. Essentially Met Eireann based its warning on the wind speed, while the Met Office assess the impact the wind could have.

"We emphasise the impact," continued John.

"Met Eireann base their warning on a threshold basis, whereas we issue warnings based on the impact the storm may have."

An amber warning from the Met Office says you should be prepared to change your plans, whereas a red warning from the nationwide forecaster says you should take action to keep yourself safe.

There has also been confusion over why the storm was called Ophelia. The Met Office explained that as the weather system was originally a hurricane and named in the US, they do not rename it.

John added: "For us there will be increased likelihood of bad weather affecting travel, power and a potential risk to live and property."

The storm is expected to pass by breakfast time on Tuesday with showers and strong winds expected through the rest of the week.

"Although hopefully it won't be as extreme as Monday," added John.

What does Hurricane #Ophelia mean for us in the UK? Here's a look...

Posted by Met Office on Saturday, October 14, 2017

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