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Warning to batten down the hatches as Hurricane Helene heads our way

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Strong winds forecast to hit Northern Ireland. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Strong winds forecast to hit Northern Ireland. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Strong winds forecast to hit Northern Ireland. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A weather warning for wind has been issued for Northern Ireland ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Helene into western Europe next week, with injuries and danger to life a possibility.

Helene is on course to hit late on Monday and early Tuesday and is expected to bring a period of very strong gusts.

It is among a group of tropical storms causing mass evacuations across the southern United States.

Hurricane Florence has already made landfall on the US coast leaving streets inundated with water and tens of thousands of homes without power.

The brunt of the bad weather is predicted to affect the east coast of Ireland, with Wales and the Cornish peninsula worst affected in Britain.

The Met Office warned that road, rail, air and ferry services may be impacted with longer journey times and cancellations possible.

And fallen trees may create additional hazards as well as some roads and bridges closing.

There is also a small chance that injuries could occur from large waves and beach material being thrown onto sea fronts, while power cuts may occur too.

Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said that from the early forecasts Co Down is most likely to be affected by the storm.

He added that today will largely be a washout, with brighter spells tomorrow and the early stages of Monday.

"Saturday will start off on the grey side with outbreaks of rain across the country," he said.

"Through the course of the day, we may just improve around lunchtime with a few breaks in the cloud.

"Unfortunately, as we go into the afternoon we will see another spell of rain moving in from the west and winds increasing too."

This is expected to continue overnight bringing with it high winds. However, tomorrow is expected to be much brighter with some lighter wind.

Monday will begin with sunny spells before the first signs of Hurricane Helene appear by pushing up some warmer air, with temperatures possibly rising to 18C or 19C.

"As we go into Monday evening that's when we will see the weather start to deteriorate with a spell of heavy rain and strong winds moving through," the forecaster said.

"There's still some uncertainty with Helene; it could end up running up the western coast of Ireland and largely bypass Northern Ireland.

"But if it remains on track we could potentially see winds reaching 55-65mph in the very early hours of Tuesday.

"We have a yellow weather warning in force which just creeps in to Co Down, from 6pm on Monday to midday on Tuesday.

"It is quite an overnight feature, so by the time you wake up on Tuesday it will still be blustery but nowhere near as strong and it will be brightening up again.

"The worst part early on Tuesday will be strong enough to cause some disruptions but it's still too early to pinpoint the greatest risk areas," he said.

Belfast Telegraph