The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia is set to hit the British Isles on Monday, with gusts of wind of up to 90mph forcing schools to close as the Met Office warns there is a “danger to life”.
Severe weather alerts have been issued, with the Met Office warning of potential power cuts and disruption to transport and mobile phone signal. Airports are advising passengers in Ireland to check the latest information.
The Republic of Ireland dispatched its armed forces in a bid to bolster flood defences on Sunday.
The strong winds caused a sandstorm on the Irish coast and images of damage already caused by the storm are being shared on social media.
All schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be closed on Monday.
The Republic of Ireland warned road users to “pay particular attention to the risk posed by fallen trees and flying debris”.
In Northern Ireland an amber wind warning for the area will remain in place between 3pm and 10pm.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Education said the decision to close the schools was “entirely precautionary”.
It added in a statement: “However given the weather warnings and the fact that the most severe weather is forecast for when pupils are due to be leaving school, the department believes that this is an appropriate response.”
The Met Office said that Ophelia will lose it’s “Hurricane” status but remains a “major storm”.
The tropical storm has made its way across the Atlantic and Ophelia’s remnants are set to reach home shores on Monday, resulting in “exceptional” weather – exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.
The Met Office warned that the amber warning for wind in Northern Ireland meant: “Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life.”
The Republic of Ireland’s counterpart office, Met Éireann, has issued a red warning nationwide, saying there could be “some severe and damaging gusts”, with winds in excess of 90mph, which could lead to some flooding.
The red alert is the highest warning Met Éireann can issue. As a result, all school and colleges will remain closed.
The Department of Education and Skills said that the decision has been made “following discussions with members of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning and in light of the advice from Met Éireann on this unprecedented storm”.
Crèches and Montessori facilities should also remain closed tomorrow, the department said.
Sean Hogan, the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group, warned people they “should not be out in this storm” adding: “This is an extreme weather event.”
Asked if it was likely to be the worst storm in half a century, he said the “comparable weather event” was Hurricane Debbie, which killed 12 in Ireland in 1961. Ophelia has the potential to be a life-threatening event in Ireland, he said.
A yellow weather warning is in place for northern England, and Wales and southern and central Scotland.
The warning, which is in place between midday and 11.55pm today reads: “Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, with longer journeys times and cancellations possible.
“Power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.
“Some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs could happen, perhaps leading to injuries and danger to life from flying debris.
“Coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities may be affected by spray and/or large waves.”