Forecasters have warned that Storm Helene could pose a danger to life when it bears down on Ireland next week.
Ferocious winds lurking in the Atlantic threaten to whip across western and southern regions of Ireland and Britain from Monday evening, bringing disruption and hazardous conditions, the UK’s Met Office said.
Helene, a former hurricane, is among a glut of tropical storms brewing, with mass evacuations under way in southern US states as Hurricane Florence continues to barrel across Virginia and North and South Carolina.
Florence has left five people dead and more than 720,000 customers without power before being downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
The Met Office issued two “yellow” alerts for Britain yesterday as Helene creeps towards south-west corners of the UK and the tip of Ireland.
Its warning said “very strong winds” could pose the risk of “injuries and danger to life” because of flying debris.
Large waves lashing coastal regions also have the potential to harm by propelling “beach material” onto seafronts, the warning said.
Met Éireann has said it is monitoring Storm Helene in the Atlantic and will issue warnings, if required, closer to the time of landfall.
It has predicted that the weather system will reach Ireland on Monday night as an ex-tropical storm. The meteorological service said current indications are that Helene will approach Ireland’s south coast on Monday night and is likely to bring a spell of wet and windy weather on Monday night and early on Tuesday.
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Met Éireann said remaining rain from overnight will clear during Tuesday morning, followed by a blustery day with a mix of cloud and bright or sunny spells and the odd light shower. The weather will stay unsettled after Tuesday.
There are no strong indications of severe or damaging weather, but Met Éireann said it is aware of the situation and is monitoring it.
With potentially wet and windy conditions ahead next week, many will be keeping a close eye on the weather, as the annual Ploughing Championships get under way on Tuesday.
Met Éireann forecaster Joanna Donnelly told the Irish Independent that due to the popularity of this event, a weather warning will be issued sooner than usual.
“We’re aware that there will be a lot more people on the road once the championships start, so we intend on giving the public plenty of notice,” she said.
“The hurricane will most likely shift due to its unpredictability, so it’s hard to determine where exactly it will land. But indications at the moment look like it’ll be hitting the south coast.”
The exact path Helene will take is not certain. Forecasters said the path and timing could change, and the track could even wobble a little bit.
Meanwhile, NUI Maynooth Professor John Sweeney said on Thursday the oncoming weather will not be as extreme as October 2017’s Ophelia.
“The trajectory is almost identical to Ophelia, but you can rest assured, the expectation is this hurricane will weaken. It will get caught up in jet streams and low pressure streams.
“It will probably reach us in the form of heavy rainfall, maybe gales, but it will be no repeat of Ophelia,” he said.
The professor was responding to weather reports that Helene was on a “collision course” with Ireland and the UK.” It is understood that the UK Met Office has the capabilities to issue warnings up to five days in advance.