Part of a tree fell on her car in West Waterford in the Republic of Ireland, as the country began to be battered by hurricane-force gusts.About 120,000 homes are without power in the Irish Republic, where the government has deployed the army. An amber warning for Northern Ireland, Wales, south west Scotland and the Isle of Man is in force until 23:00 BST.
The Met Office has warned of “potential danger to life”, with wind gusts off the south coast of Ireland reaching 109mph (176km/h) at Fastnet Rock.A yellow warning of “very windy weather” also covers parts of Scotland, the west and north of England and Wales.
It could be several days before power is restored to some homes in the Republic of Ireland, ESB Networks has warned. In Wales, about 200 homes were without power and the Cleddau Bridge was shut to high-sided vehicles, Pembrokeshire County Council said. All schools in the county have been closed.
Ophelia has arrived from the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean and comes 30 years after the UK’s Great Storm of 1987. Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ophelia was a dangerous storm and advised people to stay indoors until the storm had passed. The BBC’s Ireland correspondent, Chris Page, said it would be the most severe storm to hit Ireland in half a century.
Former US President Bill Clinton has cancelled a trip to Belfast because of the weather. It is understood he was due to meet Northern Ireland’s political parties over the current stalemate at Stormont. BBC Weather said Monday would be a “day of huge contrasts” with the strong gusts of wind travelling over the Irish Sea and heading north to central and southern Scotland, sparing eastern parts of the UK.
Eastern England is instead expected to enjoy unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures of 22C or 23C on Monday – compared with an average for mid-October of 15C. Highs of 24C were recorded in the region on Saturday as some parts of the country basked in a “mini heatwave” thanks to warm air brought by Hurricane Ophelia.
Ophelia set the record for the most easterly category three hurricane in the Atlantic. Category three hurricanes are defined as having wind speeds of between 111mph (179km/h) and 129mph (208km/h) and can cause major damage to well-built homes.