Hurricane Ophelia bears down on Azores archipelago

2017-10-15 06:29


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São José - The Portuguese Azores archipelago was on weather alert on Saturday as Hurricane Ophelia approached, with heavy rainfall forecast in the region.

The hurricane is expected to move past the island of Santa Maria before approaching Ireland.

Red alert

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre said that Ophelia was forecast to produce total rain accumulations of between 51mm and 100mm over the southeastern Azores and it could trigger flooding. Seven of the nine islands that make up the Azores were placed on red alert by the regional civil protection services.

The local population, which totals 245 000, was told to stay home if possible during the passage of the hurricane which is now a category two out of five, but still capable of generating winds of more than 100km/h. 

All 17 firefighting units on the archipelago are on standby to intervene, said a spokesperson.

The authorities imposed traffic restrictions on the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria, which are expected to see the worst of the hurricane.

Portugal's weather centre said the eye of the hurricane was projected to pass Santa Maria some 150km to the south, without making landfall, before moving north-west.

Marine conditions

Ophelia should no longer be a hurricane by the time it reaches Ireland, but will still whip up a powerful storm, the US hurricane centre predicted.

Five counties in the west of Ireland will be placed on red alert for "severe" weather conditions from Monday morning to early Tuesday, the Irish Meteorological Service said.

Wind speeds in excess of 80km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h are expected, potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with dangerous marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding, the service said.

Parts of the UK, meanwhile, have been placed on yellow alert for Monday and Tuesday, the lowest warning level triggered by "serious" weather conditions.

Read more on:    portugal  |  weather  |  hurricanes

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