Ophelia’s strange path

IRELAND is not renowned for its great weather. It takes a lot of rain to create those forty shades of green. But it is not the kind of place you would expect to be affected by a hurricane. That, though, is what is happening today, as former Hurricane Ophelia batters the island, causing all schools to close and, so far, killing three people. Over the next 24 hours it is expected to hit parts of Scotland as well.

Like many Atlantic storms, Ophelia formed south-west of the Azores, where areas of low pressure often occur. Most such systems, though, are blown west towards the Caribbean. Ophelia barely moved for a week after its formation, and was then blown north. This is unusual, though not unprecedented. The remnants of Hurricane Gordon affected Ireland and Britain in 2006, disrupting play at the Ryder Cup golf tournament.

Hurricanes draw their strength from warm water. The seas in the Atlantic have been 0.5°-1°C warmer than usual this year, according to Britain’s…Continue reading

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