We don’t know if Ireland will be hit again, says Florida hurricane specialist

Trevor Keegan

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Tropical storm Ophelia 11 October 2017. Based on VIIRS / Suomi NPP satellite data

The branch chief of the National Hurricane Centre in Florida has said it “impossible” to know whether or not Ireland will face more severe weather events such as Storm Ophelia last year.

Mike Brennan was keynote speaker at a conference on hurricanes and storms in Dublin’s RDS last week, organised by his meteorological colleagues in Met Éireann.  He says “we cannot know for sure if and when another full-scale hurricane will hit Ireland because there are too many factors such as the environment in which the hurricane forms and the sea temperatures surrounding it.  It can literally be a case of the perfect storm”.

Mike worked closely with the Glasnevin-based team when Storm Ophelia became the first fully classified hurricane to hit Ireland since the early 1960s.  “Ophelia was unique because it occurred so far north in the Atlantic Basin“.  Mike adds that “normally the structure of a hurricane changes at those latitudes and it’s normally only hurricane remnants that we experience here and across Europe”.

Mike’s love of weather comes from his childhood.  His first memory of a weather event in his life was the destruction caused in Granny’s house during a flood and he says from then ” I wanted to know about the whys and wherefores of weather activity”.  After studying meteorology he ended up working at the main hurricane data centre in Miami.   Whilst working in the centre,  Mike has experienced some of the strongest storms imaginable including Irma and Harvey last year which were both category 5 hurricanes meaning that even the safety of his work-place was tested as the wind shutters came down.

And if you think that national obsession about the weather is unique to Ireland, think again.  Mike explains in the video below how wonderment about the weather is universal!

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Trevor Keegan