Wild jpg

Ophelia’s very wild Atlantic way

A satellite image of Ophelia released by Met Eireann, the Irish meteorological service

 

By Irish Echo Staff

Oh-we-feel-ya all right!

Ireland and the island’s inhabitants battened down the hatches today as Ophelia, be she a hurricane or tropical storm, churned up the Atlantic off the island’s west coast.

Ophelia was being dubbed the most powerful Atlantic storm to have reached Ireland in the past half century and that power, tragically, had taken three lives as off 5 p.m. Irish time.

Heavy winds and hurricane gusts have also resulted in many downed trees and power lines with electricity out to over 300,000 people in their homes and businesses according to reports.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

That number, according to some predictions, could exceed 500,000 by tonight.

Public transport has been shut down while schools, banks, government offices and courts were all closed.

Flights have been cancelled or delayed at airports on both sides of the border but at Shannon Airport in County Clare early arriving flights from New York, Boston and Providence, Rhode Island were able to land.

A number of flights in and out of Shannon later in the day were cancelled, however, as were all Aer Lingus flights in and out of Cork Airport.

In Cork, the roof was blown off the stand at the Cork City soccer ground.

Former president Bill Clinton had to postpone his arrival in Belfast where he was due to intervene in the troubled political talks aimed at restoring the power sharing Executive.

Mr. Clinton’s Irish visit was mainly due to his being awarded an honorary doctorate by Dublin City University.

His visit to Belfast could now take place on Tuesday.

As the storm last the island people were warned, by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar included, to stay indoors.

Ophelia, according to a report in online The Journal.ie, came up from the south through Kerry, before spreading to Cork and the rest of Munster.

Gale force winds in the early morning then moved northwards across the country during the day with hurricane force winds along the south and west coasts.

Heavy rain is also part of Ophelia’s calling card.

Storm surges have also been evident with reports of the sea wall being overwhelmed at Salthill in Galway.

One woman was killed in County Waterford when a falling tree struck her car. A man operating a chain saw was also a fatality.

The Irish Coast Guard asked the public to avoid coastal or cliff areas and waterways.

Defense minister Paul Kehoe, who is also the chair of the Irish government Taskforce on Emergency Planning, said that the full resources of the defense forces would be made available to local authorities and primary response agencies as needed.