Tropical Storm Ophelia Shuts Hospitals, Schools in Ireland

Image: The sky over the London Eye is bathed in a dull orange sky in London
The sky over the London Eye is bathed in a dull orange sky in London, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.Frank Augstein / AP

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/ Source: Reuters

LAHINCH, Ireland — Schools and hospitals were closed in Ireland on Monday and people were warned to stay indoors as Tropical Storm Ophelia threatened to lash the country with its worst weather in 50 years.

The armed forces were dispatched to bolster flood defenses in some areas as the authorities warned of flash flooding, damage to buildings and violent winds reaching 90 mph.

Hurricane force winds were expected in every part of Ireland, according to the government. Tropical-storm force winds may also be experienced in Wales and parts of England.

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Photos: Ophelia Turns London Sky Eerie Yellow-Orange

"All non-essential activity should be deferred. Do not be out tomorrow in this storm," Sean Hogan, the chairman of Ireland's National Emergency Coordination Group, told state broadcaster RTE on Sunday.

Ophelia made landfall at around 7 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) and was expected to move across Ireland during the day before moving towards western Scotland overnight.

Airports in Dublin, Cork and Shannon remained open but many flights were cancelled.

Exactly 30 years ago, parts of the United Kingdom were hit by the Great Storm of 1987, which killed 18 people.

Ophelia was the sixth major hurricane of the Atlantic season before it was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight, the Irish weather service said.

Similar-sized storms in the past have changed the shape of stretches of the Irish coastline, climatologists said.

Rachel Elbaum contributed.