Hurricane Ophelia swept into Ireland with deadly force today as 120,000 homes lost power, trees were flattened and flights were grounded in what could be the worst storm to hit the island in 56 years.
Two people have been killed in accidents as gusts of 92mph hit the South West coast - with worse weather yet to come, according to forecasters. Meanwhile schools closed early and bridges were shut on the UK mainland.
A man in his 30s died in a chainsaw accident in Cahir, Tipperary, after trying to remove a tree downed by Ophelia; while a woman in her 50s died after a tree fell on her car in severe winds while she drove near Aglish in Waterford.
Northern Ireland and Wales will be hit by gales of up to 70mph and the rest of Britain will see heavy rain, as troops were placed on standby in Ireland and many public services closed amid fears about the impact of winds.
Remnants of Ophelia, which was previously classified as a hurricane as it made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, will result in 'exceptional' weather - exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.
High winds have caused the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross Stadium, home of Cork City Football Club, to collapse today
Hurricane Ophelia is captured by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) as seen from space today
Corrugated iron has been blown across Pearse Street in Kinsale, County Cork, as Ireland is hit by 92mph winds today
A family risk getting swept into sea for the sake of a bit of fun on Dawlish seafront in Devon today
Three huge trees have fallen on Clontymon Lawn in Ballinlough, County Cork, with one hitting a car today
Huge waves whipped up by Hurricane Ophelia batter the coast at Porthleven in Cornwall this afternoon
Ten-year-old cocker spaniel Lily (background) and two-year-old Italian Spinone Lottie on a windy walk in Land's End, Cornwall
A woman and her dog get soaked as big waves crash into the Penzance seafront in Cornwall this afternoon
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged the public to stay safe, saying: 'The advice is: stay indoors until the storm passes. Whether that is at work, in their home or some other home, stay indoors.
'Check on neighbours and relatives. Bear in mind it is coming your way and it is a national red alert. It is a very dangerous storm. The last time there was a storm this severe 11 lives were lost.'
Sarah Kavanagh, who lives in Cork, where the storm is hitting first, tweeted a video of birds flying away at about 8am, saying: 'Ummmm... think they know there's something big coming? #Ophelia #Mondays.'
Earlier today, thousands of people were stranded by Ophelia after cross-Channel ferry companies cancelled services because of dangerous sea conditions.
Irish government forecasters said the storm could be the most severe weather to hit the country since 1961 - when Hurricane Debbie made landfall.
A woman surveys the scene as Ophelia begins to make landfall at Baltimore on the coast of County Cork in southern Ireland
Tree damage across Ireland in Ballylangley, Bandon (left), and on the Killumney to Crossbarry Road (right) in County Cork
Rays of sunlight shine through dark clouds as storm Ophelia hits the County Clare town of Doonbeg in Ireland this morning
A woman walks her dog in the coastal village of Carrigaholt on the West Coast of Ireland as Hurricane Ophelia arrives today
Waves crash into the Longships Lighthouse at Land's End in Cornwall, as high winds hit the area today
A ship at anchor off of Carrigaholt on the West Coast of Ireland as Ophelia hits the British Isles with gusts of up to 80mph
Waves crash against the shore at Baltimore in West Cork this morning as Ireland braces for wind gust speeds of up to 80mph
Dark clouds gather over the Irish Sea and Dublin as Ireland braces for the passing of the storm Ophelia
A man collects sandbags to protect homes from a storage shed on the Dublin Bay coast on the outskirts of the city
In Britain, the Met Office said Ophelia's gusts are forecast to make it the UK's strongest ex-tropical storm since Hurricane Katia in September 2011, which had 81mph low-level gusts and caused one death and travel chaos.
Winds of more than 81mph would make the storm Britain's strongest ex-hurricane since Hurricane Lili's 92mph gusts in 1996, said AccuWeather. The Met Office said the storm should be hitting Ireland by late morning.
Meanwhile Brittany Ferries has announced it has abandoned today's sailing between Plymouth and Roscoff. The Scillonian ferry service between Penzance in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has also been cancelled.
Mr Varadkar said that the National Emergency Coordination Group will be meeting throughout the course of the day. Met Eireann said the strongest winds have not yet hit the country.
Trees and power lines are down across Kerry and Cork as the storm makes its way across the island of Ireland. More than 22,000 customer are without power in areas ranging from Co Galway, around Munster to Co Waterford.
A tree down by Hamilton High School in Bandon, County Cork, as strong winds approach the Republic of Ireland today
A tree down between Mount Uniake to Killeagh in County Cork in southern Ireland this morning as the storm approaches
A lighthouse is seen as storm Ophelia approaches South Stack in Anglesey, Wales, today
Emergency services are on the scene after a tree fell down in Maryborough, County Down, this morning
Trees down on the Carrigaline to Donnybrook Road (left) and a road blocked from Ballincollig to Blarney (right) in County Cork
The head of Corporate Affairs at ESB said earlier widespread power outages are expected.
Ophelia brings an eerie red sun to England
Hurricane Ophelia brought an eerie red sun to parts of England as a blanket of orange cloud swept in.
A bright red sun glows in the sky over Bristol
The storm is believed to have picked up dust from the Sahara and debris from forest fires in Spain and Portugal as it travelled towards the UK.
This caused the sun to appear red and created an atmospheric orange glow across the West Country and Bristol.
Bristol resident Simon Gallowway tweeted: 'Weird Sun over Bristol right now. Looking like something from Star Wars.'
Emma Cope wrote: 'Urmm I don't want to alarm anyone but the sun is pink! Is this the end of the world?'
The Met Office is investigating several reports of the mysterious phenomenon.
A spokesman said: 'We're getting reports from Devon and Cornwall and to see this kind of report from Bristol is very interesting.
'It's something we're investigating, it could well be the cause for this.'
In Ireland, schools, nurseries and colleges have been closed, court sittings postponed, numerous hospital outpatient appointments cancelled and the Defence Forces put on standby.
Businesses have been urged to consider whether opening would pose a risk to employees.
Schools have also been advised to close in Northern Ireland while many college classes have also been scrapped. The Lord Chief Justice also advised the judiciary to cease all court hearings at 12.30pm.
Across the island, many ferries, trains, buses and flights have been cancelled. The storm hit the south-west coast on Monday morning and is due to sweep up through the island.
Met Eireann has issued a status red weather warning across all of the Irish Republic. It has described the storm as the most powerful to have ever been this far east in the Atlantic on record.
Forecasters have warned of a potential threat to life and advised the public to stay off the roads and away from the coast during the height of the storm if possible.
Counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal are due to bear the brunt of the winds. The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland and warned of 'potential danger to life'.
The differing severity of alerts north and south of the border is more due to differences in the way Met Eireann and the Met Office rate threats, rather than an indication that Northern Ireland will not be hit as hard.
In regard to Northern Ireland, the Met Office said: 'There is a good chance that power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.
'Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life.'
Irish Defence Forces are on standby to deploy resources, including transport and engineering assets.
Yesterday, the Department of Education in Dublin said that all Irish schools, colleges and other education institutions are to stay closed today.
The decision was taken following a special meeting of the government task force on emergency planning.
Barrelling north: The hurricane is heading towards Ireland and today is set to hit with 80mph winds at 11am this morning
Potentially deadly: A satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Ophelia overnight
This satellite image shows Ophelia over the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday. By the time it hits the UK it will bring 80mph winds
This satellite image issued yesterday afternoon shows Ophelia on Friday as it made its way towards the British Isles
This graphic shows the path of Ophelia as it makes its way towards the UK today and tomorrow
The storm follows a weekend of unseasonably warm weather with some areas in the South reaching high temperatures
Authorities in Northern Ireland have faced criticism after announcing closure advice to schools late on Sunday night, giving parents limited time to arrange childcare.
Ophelia 'brings burning incense smell to Britain'
Hurricane Ophelia was blamed for bringing a bizarre phenomenon when it smashed into the British Isles on Monday today - a strange smell.
People in Cornwall reported a smell of burning candles or incense, with the whiff seemingly particularly strong in coastal areas.
There were reports along the coast from Portreath to Hayle and a woman in Penzance said she could smell incense as the strong winds started to whip up around the town.
Lisa Anne Marie Nicholls, from Wadebridge, said: 'There's loads of people saying there is a burning smell outside. Reports as far as Devon to the Lizard. Weird'
Tricia Harper gave the following explanation: 'This is tropical air that has a different odour than we're used.
'Trees in the tropics produce oxygen just like our trees in the UK. The smell is typical of tropical air and is a result of high humidity and the oxygen produced by trees based in the tropics.
'If you have ever been to the tropics you will have noticed this smell constantly in the air. I love it.'
A Met Office spokesman said forecasters were looking into it.
Some 30 years ago, weatherman Michael Fish famously told the UK that a hurricane 'was not coming' just hours before the country was battered by 115mph winds.
But the 73-year-old has now admitted that Hurricane Ophelia 'looks nasty' and said the timing of the storm was a 'terrible coincidence'.
The gales today are set to batter the UK exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 which killed 22 people, destroyed around 15million trees and caused £2billion damage.
The whole of Ireland has been placed on a red alert as the storm continues to approach the country this morning.
It comes as swarms of deadly jellyfish have been seen washed up on beaches across the south coast after being blown ashore by the hurricane.
The UK Military of Defence has three battalions - 1,200 personnel in total - permanently on standby to assist with contingencies. But an MoD spokesman said it hasn't yet received requests from any local authority for assistance.
In Ireland, schools, government buildings and courts are closing today, with the Met Office issuing severe weather alerts, warning of potential power cuts, and disruption to transport and mobile phone signals.
A yellow weather warning has been issued for much of the West of the UK with a more serious amber warning issued for Northern Ireland, which is expected to take the brunt of the storm.
Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said that while storms with these wind speeds tend to happen at this time of year, the one on its way is 'quite a substantial system', adding that he would describe it as 'pretty exceptional'.
Mr Miall said Ophelia will have gone through a transition on its way across the Atlantic but will still bring 'hurricane-force' winds.
The Met Office also warned: 'Some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs could happen, perhaps leading to injuries and danger to life from flying debris.'
A spokesman told MailOnline: 'Hurricane Ophelia is slowly edging its way closer to us. The centre of the storm will hit south west Ireland first, at around 11am.
A surfer makes the most of the choppy seas off of the coast of Bournemouth in Dorset as the stormy weather picks up
People on the beach as the stormy weather begins in Bournemouth in Dorset today
The sea is whipped into foam at Porthleven in Cornwall this morning
A man takes a swim at Sandycove on the Irish Sea coast in County Dublin this morning
'There has been a red warning issued for the whole of the Republic of Ireland - which is something I've never seen before and there are likely to be 80mph winds there.
Ophelia blocks Clinton Northern Ireland visit
Storm Ophelia has forced former US president Bill Clinton to postpone a planned intervention in Northern Ireland's political stalemate.
Mr Clinton had been due in the region today to meet the region's warring political parties as they continue to struggle to reach a deal to restore the collapsed Executive.
But the visit was called off at late notice due to the severe weather warnings. It is understood the visit may still take place tomorrow.
According to Stormont sources, Mr Clinton planned to take the meetings ahead of an official event in Dublin tomorrow, when he will receive an honorary doctorate from Dublin City University.
The face-to-face talks were aimed at encouraging former government partners Sinn Fein and the DUP to work through their differences and restart powersharing.
'Later in the day there will be 70mph winds hitting west Wales and the Isle of Man. There will be potential flooding in south west Scotland and there could be some coastal issues because of the storm.'
Tomorrow, the windy weather is expected to spread across to the North and southern Scotland with a yellow warning remaining in place for these areas. The wind is expected to ease to sub-warning levels by the evening.
Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland weather forecasters are warning of a potential threat to life as a red weather warning - the highest of its kind - was issued in several western states, including Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry. The rest of the country is on amber alert.
In Dublin the National Emergency Co-ordination Group met this morning to discuss preparations for the arrival of the storm while school bus services have been cancelled to ensure child safety in the five western counties.
Irish Defence Forces are on standby to deploy resources, including transport and engineering assets.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: 'Defence forces being deployed in Red weather alert areas and on standby for further action. Please check in with older neighbours and those who need medical care.'
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has asked the public to avoid using GP services during the storm except for emergencies.
While hospital emergency departments remain open, the IMO has also urged the public to ensure that these are reserved for genuine emergencies.
Nick Dixon was battling the elements in County Kerry as Ophelia threatened to blow him away on ITV's Good Morning Britain
A bright red sun glows in the sky over Bristol this morning ahead of the arrival of Ophelia over the British Isles
Martin Galvin and his son Adam prepared themselves for Ophelia yesterday at Courtmacsherry Bay near Cork, Ireland
In Kerry, Ireland, emergency response volunteers unload sandbags in preparation for the storm. Ireland could be hit the worst
Dr Padraig McGarry, chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, said that while most GP surgeries will remain open today, they want to ensure GP members are free to deal with genuine emergency cases rather than with more routine business.
In respect of Emergency Departments of Hospitals, Dr Peadar Gilligan, chairman of the Consultant Committee said: 'We expect emergency departments to be particularly busy over the coming 24 hours and we would urge the public to respect the fact that these should be reserved for genuine emergencies only.'
Watch out for flying debris, drivers are told
Motorists have been warned to avoid unnecessary travel as Storm Ophelia batters parts of the UK -threatening flying debris, fallen trees and large waves along coastal roads.
The AA issued emergency advice to drivers to be prepared for disruption and road closures.
Spokesman Vince Crane said: 'Those in the worst-affected regions such as Ireland, west Wales, the North West and Scotland should avoid unnecessary travel.
'For those on the road, expect disruption and drive to the conditions. This may mean slowing down so that sudden gusts don't blow you as far off course.'
The storm is expected to move across to Wales, northern England and Scotland into Tuesday.
The public has been advised to stay off the roads during the height of the storm if possible and to avoid coastal areas. Cyclists have also been warned not to go out on their bikes.
The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management said the storm is expected to hit Kerry at 6am. The storm front will track northwards tonight, leaving Irish coastal waters before midnight.
Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport are advising passengers to check the latest flight information before travelling.
Meanwhile, airports are advising passengers in Ireland to check the latest information, with a number of Aer Lingus flights cancelled due to severe weather and the prospect of further cancellations with other carriers.
Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport are advising passengers to check the latest flight information before travelling to the airport, while Cork Airport said cancellations are likely.
Ryanair said: 'We will inform customers in the event of any changes to our flight schedule and the latest flight information will be posted on the Ryanair.com website.'
Bus Eireann said it will not run School Transport Scheme services on Monday in the counties of Waterford, Wexford, Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway and Mayo.
In Scotland local airline Loganair is offering free flight changes on routes that could be hit by the severe weather conditions. The firm said, at the moment, it still intends operating a normal full schedule today and tomorrow.
Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: 'Weather forecasts indicate that high winds and rain will impact the West of Scotland from Monday afternoon through to Tuesday lunchtime.
Members of Cork City Council hold a crisis management team meeting this morning ahead of Ophelia making landfall
Group chairman Sean Hogan speaks to the media after a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination group in Dublin
Met Eireann forecaster Evelyn Cusack at the meeting yesterday. Weather forecasters are warning of a potential threat to life
Winds move through Wales, around Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire and up through the north.
The storm is now raging over Ireland and Northern Ireland, and across North Wales, as well as southern and central England - including areas around Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
By this time winds will be moving up the UK, travelling through the midlands into the north, around Cheshire and Derbyshire.
Now winds will start to hit the West of Scotland but the full extent won't hit until midnight.
Gusts will be rushing through the north of England, with the extreme weather then travelling to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The storm is then expected to batter Scotland and northern England.
'The possibility of weather disruption to our flights is increased, and we're therefore offering customers booked to travel on certain routes on Monday and Tuesday the opportunity to voluntarily re-arrange their travel without charge.
'If you hold a confirmed reservation on any of these routes on Monday or Tuesday, you can change your reservation to any available Loganair flight within the next seven days.
'There will be no change fee or difference in fare payable. If you're booked to travel out on Monday or Tuesday, your return flight can also be changed.'
The storm follows a weekend of unseasonably warm weather across the British Isles with some areas in the South reaching highs of 71.7F (22C) on Saturday.
And the warm weather remained in the region yesterday with 69F (20.7C) temperatures in Suffolk.
The persistent winds have already caused huge numbers of jellyfish to be washed up on beaches from Bournemouth in Dorset to Barmouth in North Wales.
In Sussex, Devon, Somerset, Cornwall and south Wales dozens have been spotted being blown ashore in the winds.
A spokesman for the Sussex Wildlife Trust said: 'The gas-filled bladder acts as a sail. Their long tentacles can result in a painful sting so please don't touch if you see one.'
The Portuguese man o' war, which is not a jellyfish but a colonial organism, has tentacles reaching out an incredible 160ft (49 metres).
Despite its similar appearance, the Portuguese man o' war isn't actually a jellyfish. It is a siphonophore - a type of an animal that is made up of a colony of organisms working together.
Dr Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, said: 'Portuguese man o' war are ocean-going animals, propelled by the wind on their inflatable sail as they fish the depths with their stinging tentacles.
A deadly Portuguese man o' war washed up on a beach near Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex
A Sea Trust Wales spokesman said: 'Children need to be made aware that these dangerous but attractive animals are capable of giving an extremely powerful sting'
Experts have issued warnings to stay away from the Portuguese man o' war as their tentacles can deliver a sting fatal to humans
The Portuguese man o' war, which is not a jellyfish but a colonial organism, has tentacles reaching out an incredible 160ft
TIMELINE OF HURRICANE OPHELIA'S JOURNEY TO UK
- October 9 - The US National Hurricane Centre issue an advisory after a tropical depression was found in the Atlantic. At that point, the storm had not been named and was referred to as 'Tropical Depression Seventeen', with winds of 35mph being recorded in its position 875 miles to the west of the Azores. The advisory said: 'Some strengthening is forecast, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later today or tonight.'
- October 9 - The depression does strengthen into a tropical storm and is given the name Ophelia - the 15th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
- October 10 - The NHC record tropical-storm-force winds more than 100 miles from the centre of the storm and say 'gradual strengthening is forecast.' The centre expect it to be reclassified as a hurricane by the following day. The storm is still around 800 miles west of the Azores, travelling towards the southeast at 3mph.
- October 11 - Ophelia becomes a hurricane - the 10th of the season - as it is tracked 760 miles south west of the Azores. The NHC report it is drifting to the northeast and is expected to gather pace on Friday. Winds have increased to 65mph.
- October 12 - The maximum winds from Ophelia are recorded at 105mph, with two to four inches (50-100mm) of rain forecast to fall in the Azores on Saturday and Sunday. The NHC says: 'Some slow weakening is forecast to begin Friday night but Ophelia should remain a hurricane for the next couple of days.'
- October 13 - Ophelia is moving at 20mph in an east-north-easterly direction with maximum sustained winds of 100mph.
- October 14 - The storm is given a Category 2 status by the NHC, who add: 'Little change in strength is expected today, followed by slow weakening on Monday and Tuesday. However Opheli
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