The US National Hurricane Centre has updated its warning about Hurricane Ophelia saying the the storm is still on course to have a big impact on Ireland.
The Flordia-based centre said early on Sunday morning Ophelia is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone within 24 hours that is still on course to strike the country.
"Regardless of the exact timing, post-tropical cyclone Ophelia is forecast to remain a powerful storm with hurricane-force winds when it reaches Ireland on Monday," says the warning.
The centre, which had already described Ophelia as a 'Rare Category 3 Hurricane', says the storm system is forecast to interact with land, which should cause a faster rate of weakening in 48 to 72 hours.
"Although the center of Ophelia is not forecast to reach Ireland or the UK until Monday, strong winds and rains will arrive well in advance of the cyclone centre," it said.
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The Centre says that although the satellite appearance of Ophelia has been slowly on Sunday morning, the cyclone remains "an impressive hurricane" due to it being over the relatively cool waters of the northeastern Atlantic.
While Met Éireann has issued a Red Alert for some counties on the west cost and an orange alert for the rest of the country, the US tracking agency does not distinguish the worst area of impact.
"The NHC model guidance remains in excellent agreement on Ophelia reaching the southern coast of Ireland in 24-30 hours, and then move across the remainder of the country Monday night, and then move across Northern Ireland and northern Great Britain on Tuesday," said its Sunday morning forecast.
The US forecasters advises residents in those locations to be hit by the storm to consult their local meteorological service for more information on local impacts.
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Hurricane Debbie was the most powerful cyclone on record to strike Ireland when it hit in September 1961. It claimed 18 lives and caused up to £50 million in damage. It is regarded as possibly the only tropical cyclone on record to ever strike Britain and Ireland.
Other notable Hurricanes to have an impact were Charley in 1986, Gordon in 2006 and Katia in 2011. More recently Storm Darwin wreaked havoc in Laois and other Leinster counties in 2014 while Storm Desmond was one of four high power storms in the 2015/16 winter.
Status Red and Orange Warnings have been issued by the State forecaster as Ophelia heads towards the island. The tropical storm is likely to hit Sunday night having its biggest impact on Monday.
Met Éireann has also said the storm is the strongest hurricane recorded on the eastern Atlantic.
The National Emergency Co-ordination Group will meet today to discuss preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia.
A Status Red Wind Warning is in place for the west coast while the rest of the country has been placed on the second highest weather alert level - Orange.
Because of the storm's danger Met Éireann has consulted with their colleagues in the United States.
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MET ÉIREANN WEATHER WARNING SYSTEM EXPLAINED HERE
The Red Warning was issued for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry at noon on Saturday. This was extended to Waterford and Wexford on Sunday. Met Éireann says ex-hurricane Ophelia is expected to bring severe winds and stormy conditions on Monday.
The forecaster says mean wind speeds in excess of 80 km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h are expected, potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with dangerous marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding.
Meanwhile, a Status Orange Wind Warning has been issued for the rest of the country. Met Éireann again says that the storm is expected to bring severe winds and stormy conditions to all parts.
Mean wind speeds between 65 and 80 km/h with gusts between of 110 and 130km/h are expected, however some inland areas may not be quite as severe. However, structural damage and disruption is also possible with the potential for flooding.
Both Red and Yellow warning is valid from Monday morning, October 16 9am to Tuesday morning, October 17 3am.
The forcaster has advised the public that it is crucial to keep a close eye on the forecast as Ophelia's direct course could vary by up to 100km. This would mean that the Red Alert area could widen. Among the expected impacts are likely tree falls added the forecaster.
CHECK OUT THE US NATIONAL HURRICANE ADVICE ON OPHELIA HERE
CHECK OUT THE US NATIONAL HURRICANE FOR GENERAL HURRICAN INFORMATION HERE
ROAD SAFETY ADVICE FOR DRIVING IN STORMY WEATHER HERE
MORE FROM MET EIREANN ON HURRICANE OPHELIA HERE
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Hurricane Ophelia Discussion Number 25
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL172017
500 AM AST Sun Oct 15 2017
Although the satellite appearance of Ophelia has been slowly degrading this morning, the cyclone remains an impressive hurricane due to it being over the relatively cool waters of the northeastern Atlantic. A testament to Ophelia's strength is a late arriving buoy Report 25 nmi southeast of the center of the eye from around 0200Z, which indicated that the pressure in the southeastern portion of the large eye or eyewall was 970.9 mb. However, Dvorak intensity estimates have been steadily decreasing since that buoy report, so the intensity has been lowered to 90 kt for this advisory.
Ophelia continues to accelerate and the hurricane is now moving 050/30 kt. Water vapor imagery indicates that a deepening trough just to west of Ophelia is moving quickly eastward, and that the cyclone is now well embedded within the deep-layer southwesterly flow on the east side of the trough. As a result, Ophelia is expected to turn toward the north-northeast by tonight and be accompanied by a slight increase in forward speed. The NHC model guidance remains in excellent agreement on Ophelia reaching the southern coast of Ireland in 24-30 hours, and then move across the remainder of the country Monday night, and then move across Northern Ireland and northern Great Britain on Tuesday.
Ophelia is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone by 24 hours when extratropical transition should be completed, although the transition to an extratropical cyclone could occur as early as 12 hours. Regardless of the exact timing, post-tropical cyclone Ophelia is forecast to remain a powerful storm with hurricane-force winds when it reaches Ireland on Monday. The system is forecast to occlude and interact with land, which should cause a faster rate of weakening in 48 to 72 hours, with dissipation expected shortly thereafter.
Although the center of Ophelia is not forecast to reach Ireland or the UK until Monday, strong winds and rains will arrive well in advance of the cyclone center. Residents in those locations should consult products from their local meteorological service for more information on local impacts.
KEY MESSAGES from US HURRICANE CENTRE:
1. Ophelia is expected to be a powerful extratropical cyclone with
hurricane force winds Monday while it moves near Ireland and the
United Kingdom. Direct impacts from wind and heavy rain in portions
of these areas are likely, along with dangerous marine conditions.
For more details on the magnitude, timing, and location of impacts
from post-tropical Ophelia, residents in Ireland should refer to
products issued by Met Eireann, and residents in the United Kingdom
should refer to products issued by the Met Office.