Hurricane Ophelia Wreaks Havoc on British Isles

By Megan Beauchamp
Staff Writer

On Monday, October 16, Britain and Ireland were faced with lashing 80 mph winds and battering rain as Hurricane Ophelia made its way to the British Isles.

The storm has left parts of Northern Ireland battling with extreme weather conditions, some of which the country has not been faced with in decades, CNBC reports. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were essentially at a standstill as schools, hospitals, and transit services closed in preparation for the storm. In its path, it left over 380,000 homes without electricity and claimed the lives of three people.

All the victims died due to fallen trees; in two circumstances a tree struck a vehicle and killing the drivers, Clare O’Neill, 58, in Waterford, and Fintan Goss, 30, in Louth. In the third, the victim, Michael Pyke, 31, tragically died as a  tree fell onto him in Tipperary, says The Guardian.  

Coincidentally, the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia marked the anniversary of the Great storm of 1987. This super storm hit the United Kingdom 30 years ago, causing major damage and resulting in 18 deaths. At the time, the public was ill prepared for the storm, unlike Ophelia.

According to The New York Times, Met Éireann, the Irish national weather service, issued a ‘status red’ Sunday night before the storm hit, giving notices about potential power outages and possible flying debris probable to cause serious injuries or be life threatening.

Regions including Cork, Kerry, Galway, Wexford, Limerick, and Mayo were also forewarned. Similarly, the Met Office, Britain’s meteorological service, issued an amber warning for Northern Ireland as well as the south and west of Wales predicting road, rail, and air closures. BBC News reports that flood warnings and alerts were also announced, and people were strongly advised to stay away from shorelines as winds picked up.

Many feared that Ophelia would be the worst storm Ireland has seen since 1961, The Independent reports. 56 years ago, Hurricane Debbie battered Ireland, taking 18 lives in its wake. Though the death toll of Ophelia is considerably lower than that number, there was still valid cause for concern since this comes as the tenth storm in a slew of hurricanes to hit the Atlantic Ocean. According to a spokesperson at Met Éireann, the initial location of the storm was identical to that of Hurricane Debbie – The Azores Islands.

Though Ireland was affected more substantially than other parts of the UK, the country is working to regain a sense of normalcy. The Irish Times has reported that the Electricity Supply Board Networks  has restored power to every home affected by Ophelia, including those in the very rural areas of West and Southern Ireland.

Along with major power outages, came many homes left without water. In the immediate aftermath of the story, The Irish Times also reported that 109,000 people were left without water. On Monday however Irish Water confirmed that the number of people still left without water is now down to 65 households.

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