Hurricane Ophelia Sets a Rare Path for Ireland and Could Be the Worst Storm There in Decades (Video)
The Category 2 storm is currently making its way towards the Azores.
The storm, which is currently a Category 2, was initially not thought to be a land threat, swirling far from the American and European coastlines in the middle of the Atlantic. However, as CNN reports, Ophelia is much farther north than the average hurricane, meaning it’s not subject to tropical east-to-west-moving winds, and can instead drift north and east.
Although the cooler waters around Ireland and the U.K. mean the storm won’t have the same power that some of the season’s earlier storms gained in the Caribbean, the unusual trajectory could lead to one of the worst storms Ireland has seen in many years. Hurricane Debbie, which struck in 1961, was the most powerful tropical cyclone to ever hit Ireland in September, killing 18 people and causing widespread damage and destruction. This phenomena, however, is rare.
While the hurricane may lose momentum over the weekend, Ophelia will likely bring at least strong winds and rain to Ireland next week. In the meantime, depending on the exact path Ophelia takes, storm-force winds and heavy rain are also very possible by Saturday night in the Azores.
The islands, far off the coast of Portugal, have only seen 15 hurricanes pass within 200 nautical miles since 1851, according to NOAA's historical hurricane database.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Ophelia will transition to a post-tropical cyclone by Sunday night or Monday, but winds will remain at or above hurricane force at it moves towards Ireland.
Parts of the U.K. could also feel the effects of the winds early next week.
Ophelia is the 10th consecutive storm to be named in the Atlantic this hurricane season, a record that has not occurred since 1893.