Post-tropical cyclone Ophelia

  • Post-tropical cyclone Ophelia
    21.10.2017 16:43

    Ophelia became the furthest east reaching Atlantic major hurricane on record on Saturday 14th October as it strengthened to a category three hurricane south of the Azores. Ophelia then pushed north-eastwards, transitioning to an extra-tropical storm on Monday 16th October before tracking across Ireland and into Scotland, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain.

    The strongest winds were experienced across the south of Ireland, with the storm weakening as it pushed north. Gusts were widely recorded at 70-80 mph across southern Ireland with a maximum gust of 119 mph at Fastnet Lighthouse off the south coast of County Cork. Extensive damage was observed with major disruption to power supplies and the storm claimed the lives of three people.

    On its eastern side, Ophelia dragged a warm air mass up from across southern Europe and the Sahara. Winds from Ophelia fanned wildfires in Portugal and Spain in which at least 43 people were reported to have been killed.

    Smoke from these fires combined with Saharan dust to produce a reddened sky across parts of the UK. This process occurs due to dust particles in the atmosphere which preferentially scatter shorter wavelengths of light (blue light), and allow longer wavelengths (red light) to be transmitted, thus causing a reddening effect.

    Current conditions and outlook for the coming week
    Storm Brian pushed across the UK today (Saturday 21st), bringing gusty winds to southern and western areas, along with spells of heavy rain. Gusts of up to 82 mph were recorded on exposed parts of the Isle of Wight. Elsewhere, gusts ranged mainly between 40-55 mph, although gusts of up to 70 mph were recorded in north-west Wales.

    Tonight, wind gusts will gradually ease for most areas but showers and spells of rain will continue for many. Tomorrow will then be bright for many with sunny intervals but with scattered showers in the north and west, as well as some longer spells of rain for western Scotland and East Anglia. It will feel chilly in fresh north-westerly winds.

    The rest of the week is then set to remain generally unsettled with low pressure in the Atlantic, bringing showers and spells of rain to the UK, as weather fronts push across the country. However, no strong winds are expected. It be mild with temperatures above average for the time of year but it looks to turn chillier by the end of the week as a more north-westerly flow develops.

    By: Callum Stewart