WORLD NEWS

Tropical Storm Ophelia Tears Through Ireland

It was the worst storm to hit Ireland in half a century.

By Clodagh Kilcoyne

LAHINCH, Ireland (Reuters) - Three people died as Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ireland’s southern coast on Monday, knocking down trees and power lines and whipping up 10-metre (30-foot) waves.

Over 360,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with another 100,000 outages expected by nightfall, Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board said, describing it as an unprecedented event that would effect every part of the country for days.

Scroll down to see photos of the storm’s destruction.

Around 170 flights from Ireland’s two main airports at Dublin and Shannon were cancelled.

Two people were killed in separate incidents when trees fell on their cars ― a woman in her 50s in the south east and a man on the east coast. Another man in his 30s died while trying to clear a fallen tree in an incident involving a chainsaw.

The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, was the worst to hit Ireland in half a century. It made landfall after 10:40 a.m. (0940 GMT), the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 190 kph (110 mph) hitting the most southerly tip of the country. Coastal flooding was likely.

“This storm is still very active and there are still very dangerous conditions in parts of the country. Do not be lulled into thinking this has passed,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group, Sean Hogan, told national broadcaster RTE.

The armed forces were sent to bolster flood defences, public transport services and hospitals were closed and schools across Ireland and Northern Ireland will remain shut for a second day on Tuesday.

Hundreds of roads were blocked by fallen trees, Hogan said. Photos on social media showed roofs flying off buildings, including at Cork City soccer club’s Turner’s Cross stadium where the roof of one stand had collapsed.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar advised people to stay indoors. The transport minister said it was not safe to drive.

The storm winds were due to peak between 1600 GMT and 1800 GMT in Dublin and Galway, two of Ireland’s most populous cities, and later on Monday in northern areas.

Britain’s meteorological service put an Amber Weather Warning into effect for Northern Ireland from 1400-2100 GMT, saying the storm posed a danger to life and was likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

It is expected to move towards western Scotland overnight and “impactful weather” is expected in other western and northern parts of the United Kingdom, it said.

British media are comparing Ophelia to the “Great Storm” of 1987, which subjected parts of the United Kingdom to hurricane strength winds 30 years ago to the day.

The Irish government said the storm was likely to be the worst since Hurricane Debbie, which killed 11 in Ireland in 1961.

It passed close to a western Ireland golf course owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been planning a wall to protect its greens from coastal erosion.

Similar storms in the past have changed the shape of stretches of the Irish coastline, climatologists said. 

(Additional reporting and writing by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans)

  • People watch the waves and sea spray at Lahinch in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland.
    Niall Carson - PA Images via Getty Images
    People watch the waves and sea spray at Lahinch in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland.
  • Waves break around the church in the harbour at Porthleven, Cornwall, as Hurricane Ophelia hits the UK and Ireland with gusts
    Ben Birchall - PA Images via Getty Images
    Waves break around the church in the harbour at Porthleven, Cornwall, as Hurricane Ophelia hits the UK and Ireland with gusts of up to 80mph. 
  • Staff from the Northern Ireland Road Service close the Peace Bridge in Londonderry, as Hurricane Ophelia hits the UK and Irel
    PA Wire/PA Images
    Staff from the Northern Ireland Road Service close the Peace Bridge in Londonderry, as Hurricane Ophelia hits the UK and Ireland with gusts of up to 80mph.
  • A view of the damage to the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross Stadium.
    Eóin Noonan via Getty Images
    A view of the damage to the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross Stadium.
  • A view of the damage to the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross Stadium.
    Eóin Noonan via Getty Images
    A view of the damage to the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross Stadium.
  • A woman takes a picture during storm Ophelia in the County Clare town of Lahinch, Ireland October 16, 2017.
    Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
    A woman takes a picture during storm Ophelia in the County Clare town of Lahinch, Ireland October 16, 2017.
  • A man stands on a coastal cliff edge in the County Clare town of Lahinch, Ireland October 16, 2017. 
    Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
    A man stands on a coastal cliff edge in the County Clare town of Lahinch, Ireland October 16, 2017. 
  • Storm Ophelia whips up the sea as it makes landfall along County Clare peninsula of Loop Head, Ireland October 16, 2017.&nbsp
    Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
    Storm Ophelia whips up the sea as it makes landfall along County Clare peninsula of Loop Head, Ireland October 16, 2017. 
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