Belfast Telegraph

Ophelia poses threat to life, forecasters warn

Weather forecasters are warning of a potential threat to life as Hurricane Ophelia is set to batter Ireland.

A status red weather warning - the highest warning - has been issued for parts of Ireland on Monday, including Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry.

Northern Ireland has been issued with an amber weather warning.

In Dublin the National Emergency Co-ordination Group met on Sunday morning to discuss preparations for the arrival of the storm - described by Met Eireann as the most powerful hurricane xto have ever been this far east in the Atlantic on record.

School bus services have been cancelled to ensure child safety in the five western counties where status red alerts are in place.

The Department of Education has urged schools in those areas to consider not opening.

The hurricane is expected to cross Northern Ireland during Monday afternoon and evening bringing very strong winds.

The Met Office has warned of "potential danger to life".

"There is a good chance that power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.

"Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life," the Met Office said.

Ophelia is on its way from the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane will be a storm when it hits the UK, exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.

It is expected to bring severe winds and stormy conditions with winds of up to 80mph.

Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport are advising passengers to check the latest flight information before travelling to the airport.

Cork Airport said cancellations are likely, adding: "We ask all passengers to check flight status with their airline & to avoid travelling to @CorkAirport on Mon unless absolutely necessary."

Responding to passengers' questions, Aer Lingus said it is monitoring the situation closely and that so far no changes have been made to its schedule.

Ryanair said: "We will inform customers in the event of any changes to our flight schedule and the latest flight information will be posted on the website."

Irish Defence Forces are on standby to deploy resources, including transport and engineering assets.

The public has been advised to stay off the roads during the height of the storm if possible and to avoid coastal areas.

Cyclists have also been warned not to go out on their bikes.

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) said the storm is expected to hit Kerry at 6am.

Localised flooding is possible.

The storm front will track northwards on Monday night, leaving Irish coastal waters before midnight.

Red level wind warnings have been put in place for Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Galway and Mayo.

All schools in the red alert areas are to close.

The rest of the country is covered by an Orange level wind warning.

On Sunday night the Northern Ireland Executive said that all schools in the region should close as a precautionary measure.

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