LONDON (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia could bring 80 mph wind gusts, disruption and damage to Ireland and Britain as the work week gets underway, weather services said Sunday.
Ophelia weakened from a Category 2 to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday as it moved north-northeast across the Atlantic. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm packs maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, as of late Sunday.
Ophelia is expected to be downgraded to a post-tropical storm before hitting land in southern Ireland Monday morning, but U.K. Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said it could still pack “hurricane force” winds.
Ireland’s Met Éireann weather service issued a “status red” warning for the entire country Sunday night, Sky News reported.
Met Éireann said the country’s southern and western counties could get gusts of up to 80 mph along with heavy rain and storm surges.
Met Éireann called the storm a “significant weather event” for Ireland that could potentially cause “structural damage and flooding.” It advised residents to take extreme care and stay up to date with the latest storm warnings.
Sky News reported that all schools and colleges have been closed, ferries have been canceled, court sittings have been postponed, and defense forces have been put on standby in Ireland as the storm approaches.
The decision came after a special meeting of the government task force on emergency planning, Sky News reported.
Dublin and Shannon airports advised passengers to check flight information before they travel, Sky News reported. Cork Airport in southwest Ireland also said cancellations were likely, Sky News reported.
Britain’s Meteorological Office also warned of very windy weather Monday in Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern England.
The Met Office also issued an amber wind warning – the second highest level – for Northern Ireland from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time Monday, Sky News reported.
The NHC said Hurricane Ophelia could bring 2 to 3 inches of rain in western Ireland and Scotland, with coastal flooding and “large and destructive waves” where it makes landfall.
Hurricane-force winds could reach the southern portions of Ireland by Monday afternoon, NHC said. It had warned that “preparations to protect lives and property should be rushed to completion” by Sunday afternoon.
By coincidence, Monday is the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987, which killed almost 20 people in Britain and felled 15 million trees.
But the NHC said the storm will likely weaken on Monday and Tuesday.
Ophelia is now the farthest east an Atlantic major hurricane has existed on record, Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, said on Twitter. He said the previous record was Hurricane Frances in 1980.
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