Will the tail of Hurricane Irma affect Ireland?

Storm predicted to trigger further tornados and floods before settling over Tennessee

Handout satellite image issued by Nasa dated 10/09/17 of Hurricane Irma over southern Florida. Photograph: PA

Handout satellite image issued by Nasa dated 10/09/17 of Hurricane Irma over southern Florida. Photograph: PA


Hurricane Irma, which has raked Florida and is heading north towards Georgia and the Carolinas in the US, will barely cause a whimper in Ireland.

Hurricanes can reform over the Atlantic Ocean and bring extreme wind and rain to Europe but this is not predicted to happen in this case.

Met Éireann meteorologist Pat Clarke, armed with the latest projections from the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami, predicts Irma will eventually get stuck over Tennessee by mid-week. In the meantime it will continue to trigger tornadoes, and heavy floods – but already is classified as a “category 1” storm; the most severe tropical cyclone being category 5.

Historically, he explained, hurricanes die out over land, especially the more they travel inland; or extinguish themselves when they meet cold water in the ocean – less than 26 degrees – and usually in waters close to the east coast of North America in an area south of Newfoundland and above New York/Boston.

If however there is warm moisture over the sea and temperatures above 26 degrees there, for example, they can reform, travel across the Atlantic and hit Ireland hard.

“It will be very wet and windy during Tuesday [across Ireland] but this will be nothing to do with Irma,” he told The Irish Times. The longer-term forecast is for more settled weather in coming days, he said.

Meanwhile with the hurricane season in the Caribbean and southern US continuing, the NHC has downgraded hurricanes Katia and José which were limbering up in the wake of Irma.

But it is tracking carefully a tropical wave located several hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands near Africa (from where hurricanes often originate). It “continues to produce disorganised showers and thunderstorms”. There is “a 30 per cent chance” it will move west and turn into a hurricane.

The tail-end of Hurricane Gert was a factor in extreme flooding that hit Northwest Ireland in August. Winds are normally associated with hurricanes and even their after effects when they reach this side of the Atlantic. In this instance, the weather system was weak when it hit Ireland. However, it brought moist, humid air which mixed with colder air from the west which sparked off exceptionally intense thunder storms.

“The track of the thunderstorms was such that it poured relentlessly on the northwest, especially the Inishowen peninsula,” Met Éireann confirmed; what was described as a “once in a 100 years” weather event.