IRELAND CLOSES SCHOOLS AS HURRICANE OPHELIA APPROACHESDate: 2017-10-16
Dublin, Ireland has ordered schools to close as the country braces for an "unprecedented storm" with the arrival of Ophelia, which is the largest hurricane ever, so far, in the Atlantic Ocean.
"In response to the imminent Storm Ophelia, the Department of Education and Skills is now publicly informing all schools, colleges and other educational institutions that they are to remain closed tomorrow, Monday 16 October," the department said in a statement.
The decision was made after the discussion with the government's emergency planning task force took place and advice "on this unprecedented storm" from Ireland's Met Eireann national weather service, the statement added.
Met Eireann issued a nationwide "status red" alert and warned of "potential risks to lives" when the storm hits daytime on Monday.
Luckily, Ophelia will weaken as the storm travels over cooler seas towards the west coast of Ireland, Met Eireann forecast "violent and destructive gusts."
Heavy rain and storm surges are expected to lead to flooding. An amber wind warning has been issued for Northern Ireland between 14:00 GMT and 21:00 GMT, when gusts could reach up to 130 km/h.
"By the time Ophelia reaches our latitudes, she will be weakening and will be an ex-hurricane," said Steve Ramsdale, chief forecaster at Britain's Met Office national weather service.
"However, Ex-Ophelia will be bringing some significant impacts to Northern Ireland and western and northern Britain on Monday and Tuesday."
Ophelia is the 15th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic season, which is expected to last until the end of November. The hurricane was classed Category 3 on Saturday as it passed near Portugal's Azores island, and it packed winds of at least 178 km/h.
800 flights between the islands or to the Portuguese mainland were cancelled, affecting about 800 passengers.
Keep an eye out for updates.