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(NEW YORK) -- The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia pummeled Ireland Monday, leaving at least three people dead in storm-related accidents, Ireland's National Police said.
A woman in her 50s was killed when a tree fell on her car as she was driving. Another woman in her 70s who was a passenger in the car was injured. A man was also killed after a tree struck his car. And, a third person died in an incident related to the storm when he suffered a serious injury from a chainsaw as he was clearing a fallen tree, police said.
The Irish Meteorological Service reported wind gusts off the south coast of Ireland as high as 109 mph and said the wind was taking down trees. It said that the storm is expected to bring further "violent and destructive" wind as well as flooding from heavy rain and storm surges to Ireland. Ophelia is likely to be the most powerful storm to hit Ireland since Hurricane Debbie in 1961, forecasters said. Ireland closed schools and hospitals ahead of Ophelia, placed troops on standby and warned people to stay inside. The government said that schools will remain closed Tuesday. More than 350,000 homes and businesses are already without power.
The very strong winds will probably extend to parts of northern England along with some southern and central parts of Scotland in the evening, the U.K.'s meteorological service said.
The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland from 12:00 p.m. -- 11:00 p.m. GMT Monday, saying power cuts are likely and that cancellations and longer journey times are to be expected as some bridges might close while road, rail, air and ferry services might be affected.
Ophelia is technically no longer a hurricane, but will still pack hurricane-level wind gusts while passing over Ireland before likely crossing over to Northern Ireland.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said residents should avoid "unnecessary travel or other outdoor activities." The U.S.-based disaster modeler Enki Research said Ophelia's could cause up to $1.5 billion in damages in Ireland and up to $2.5 billion overall in the British Isles.
Public safety is our key concern today. Advice is to stay at home, no unnecessary travel or other outdoor activities. Further updates later.— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) October 16, 2017
“By the time Ophelia reaches our latitudes, she will be weakening and will be an ex-hurricane,” said Steve Ramsdale, chief forecaster at the Met Office in the U.K,, in a statement. “However, Ex-Ophelia will be bringing some significant impacts to Northern Ireland and western and northern Britain on Monday and Tuesday.”
The powerful winds will probably extend to parts of northern England and some southern and central parts of Scotland in the evening as winds turn more to the southwest, said the Met Office. Heavy rain is also possible in Northern Ireland and western Scotland. The rest of the U.K. will see breezy weather, but the wind is not expected to bring widespread disruption there, the Met Office said.
Matt Crofts, a lifesaving manager with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a British charity that aims to rescue those at risk of drowning, warned people from going out to watch the big waves.
“Stormy conditions may be tempting to watch but big waves can easily knock you off your feet,” he said in a statement. “The sea is far more powerful than you think and your chances of survival are slim if you are dragged into the swell. Our volunteer lifeboat crews will always launch to rescue those in danger at sea, but to launch into conditions like these could also put their lives at risk.”
In the U.K., media have compared Ophelia to the Great Storm of 1987, which hit the country exactly 30 years ago and killed 22 people.
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