The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland with wind gusts as high as 119 miles per hour, causing at least three deaths as of Monday evening. This is the worst storm since Hurricane Debbie hit back in 1961, in what’s been an incredible hurricane season for the entire Atlantic Basin.
We don’t often hear about hurricanes crossing the Atlantic and striking Ireland, Scotland, or the the rest of the United Kingdom. That’s because the water of the ocean is colder, and the strong winds of the jet stream in that part of the Northern Hemisphere tend to blow these hurricanes apart before they reach that side of the Atlantic. That said, it’s not unprecedented for this to happen.
The eye of the storm passed over Valentia Observatory in County Kerry early Monday, and the chart below shows the pressure bottoming out in the center of the storm. Hurricanes have their lowest pressure inside of the eye, with the strongest winds surrounding that central core.
Ophelia was officially no longer a hurricane when it reached Ireland Monday morning local time, but it was still a strong post tropical system with winds gusting well over 100 mph. Off the coast of Cork at Fastnet Rock, winds reached 119 mph, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. The wind record will need to be verified, but, if accurate, it would become the new record for the strongest wind on the Emerald Island, beating the previous record of 113 mph set by Hurricane Debbie in 1961.
Tree damage was extensive, with some 100-year-old trees succumbing to the powerful winds.
— WEATHER/ METEO WORLD (@StormchaserUKEU) October 16, 2017
In addition to the strong winds, the storm surge has devastated parts of the coastline.
— Darren McCaffrey (@DMcCaffreySKY) October 16, 2017
Hurricane season isn’t over yet
This was the 10th hurricane in the Atlantic this year. You’d have to go back to the 1800s to find a year with this many storms reaching hurricane strength. And we’re not out of the woods yet: Hurricane season continues through November. Meteorologists are watching Philippe, an area of disturbed weather in the western Caribbean this week with a 40 percent chance of reaching tropical-storm strength.