The nation had been warned of high-winds, the worst storm for a generation, floods, and potential danger to life. But nobody had predicted the orange “hurricane sun” that crept up the nation as ex-hurricane Ophelia swept in.
Some people in Cornwall even reported a strange “burning” smell.
The strange orange glow, which some people described as green or even purple was caused by the storm picking up Saharan dust and ash from fires over Spain and Portugal.
— Alan Britton (@alanbritton) October 16, 2017
Forecaster Dave Reynolds of The Weather Channel said: “Winds were strong over Iberia on Sunday, which has resulted in dust blown to the UK on a strong south to south-westerly flow.
“This is a result of Ophelia positioned to the west of Portugal on Sunday and high pressure over the western Mediterranean.”
— Tim White (@ColytonWildlife) October 16, 2017
“It’s worth checking car bonnets and car roofs for any dust—it’s most noticeable if there’s a little light rain. Anything more and it would get washed away.”
But as Brits began to tweet pictures and videos of the “hurricane sun”, pictures, videos, and reports from across the Irish Sea showed the real power of the storm.
— Pierce Kennedy 🇮🇪 (@PierceKennedy) October 16, 2017
Ireland bore the brunt of Ophelia where it made landfall on a course that is expected to take the strongest winds on a path up through Northern Ireland and the northern edges of Scotland.
The Irish prime minister made a personal plea for people to remain indoors after a woman was killed by a falling tree, the Guardian reported.
About 120,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with more outages expected and 130 flights were cancelled from Dublin Airport. Schools, hospitals, and public transport services were closed and the armed forces were dispatched to bolster flood defences.
The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, made landfall after 0940 GMT, the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 176 kph (110 mph) hitting the most southerly tip of the country and flooding likely.
“These gusts are life threatening. Do not be out there,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group Sean Hogan said on RTE.
“Our concern is to avoid a situation where we have fatalities as a result of the extremely destructive and violent gusts that we are expecting,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report