HURRICANE Ophelia has claimed three victims as the deadly storm with winds of up to 80mph makes its way through the British Isles.
A woman in her 50s was driving close to the village of Aglish in Waterford, Ireland when she was killed in her car this morning – as the country declared a "national emergency".
A female passenger, in her 70s, was also injured and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment, gardai said. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
The second victim, announced on Monday afternoon, was a man in his 30s who died in a chainsaw accident in Cahir, Co Tipperary after trying to remove a downed tree.
A man was also fatally crushed by a falling tree in his car in Ravensdale, Dundalk.
More than 360,000 homes and businesses are without power in the Republic and schools, hospitals and public transport have been forced to close while a "danger to life" weather warning remains in place.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Five day weather forecast for the next five days
The forecast is expected to remain wet and windy in the north and west.
According to the Met Office, strong winds will gradually move from Northern Ireland and Wales into Northern England and Scotland.
Northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be wet and windy.
But the winds and rain will ease throughout the day.
Some rain could reach the south later in the day.
WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY
The rain and wind is expected to drive south by Wednesday.
But the tumultuous weather is not expected to ease up, with Friday expected to be "unsettled with showers".
Northern Ireland Electricity has reported "widespread damage" to its network and currently, 1,300 customers are without power in the region.
People are warned to stay indoors as high tides lash the coast, uprooted trees cause travel chaos and birds flee inland.
But some have been seen leaping into violent waters and trying to get selfies next to massive and dangerous storm swells.
Troops are on standby as the "violent and destructive" ex-hurricane makes its way across the mainland – exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 22 people.
The RNLI has warned people to stay away from the sea during the extreme weather.
Matt Crofts, lifesaving manager, said seas are "particularly dangerous and unpredictable, with large waves and swells being a major risk", adding: "Stormy conditions may be tempting to watch but big waves can easily knock you off your feet.
"The sea is far more powerful than you think and your chances of survival are slim if you are dragged into the swell."
He added: "We understand why people want to experience extreme weather but it's not worth risking your life, so we strongly urge people to respect the water and watch from a safe distance."
Forecasters Met Eireann issued a "red" warning for Ireland, with the south and south west to be worst affected, as forecasters warn of flying debris and large waves around coastal districts.
Airline passengers are being told to expect extreme disruption to their journeys as hundreds of flights in and out of Cork, Kerry, Shannon and Dublin Airports have been cancelled.
Schools in Ireland have closed today and parents are being called to collect their children from schools in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
Ireland's education minister Richard Bruton announced all schools in the country will remain closed on Tuesday. He said the decision was "taken in the interests of safety for children and to provide clarity for everyone concerned".
This was followed by an announcement from Northern Ireland's Department of Education, which called for schools to stay shut on Tuesday.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged the public to stay safe, saying: "The advice is: stay indoors until the storm passes.
"Whether that is at work, in their home or some other home, stay indoors. Check on neighbours and relatives.
"Bear in mind it is coming your way and it is a national red alert.
"It is a very dangerous storm. The last time there was a storm this severe 11 lives were lost."
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to Mr Varadkar on Monday afternoon and "expressed her sympathies for the loss of life and said the UK Government stood ready to provide any support if requested", a spokesman said.
Footage of ferocious winds causing severe damage to the stands at Cork’s Turner’s Cross stadium was posted online – and one of the stands appears to have collapsed.
And a bizarre video has emerged of birds fleeing inland on the backdrop of gloomy skies as the storm made its way into east Cork on Monday morning.
Meanwhile parts of the UK witnessed a red sun and cars were covered in dust, which forecasters say was drawn from the Sahara by the storm.
Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said the former hurricane is pulling air and dust up from southern Europe and Africa.
"It's all connected with Ophelia, on the eastern side of the low pressure system air is coming up in the southern direction," he said.
"Air is being pulled from southern Europe and Africa and that air contains a lot of dust.
"So it's most likely the appearance of sunset at midday is caused by the particles scattering the light and giving the appearance of a red sun.
"It's certainly spectacular at the moment and quite a talking point, we've had a lot of calls about it."
By the time the hurricane reached British shores at about midday it downgraded to an "extra-tropical storm".
However since the storm made landfall on the south coast of Ireland, the Met Office has extended its weather warning for the rest of the UK.
An amber weather warning for extreme winds is now in place for Northern Ireland, South West Scotland, Lothian Borders, Strathclyde and Wales.
Very strong winds are forecast to affect most western and some central parts of the UK as the northward track of the storm makes its way across the British Isles.
Ferry crossings from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been cancelled while Brittany Ferries won't operate from Plymouth today due to dangerous sea conditions.
The Environment Agency is warning people to stay safe in exposed coastal areas as wave heights are predicted to increase to between 20ft and 45ft.
Planes have been grounded at Manchester Airport, with 20 flights cancelled and passengers warned to check ahead.
In Ireland, Met Eireann has issued a "status red" weather alert for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry, warning of severe winds and stormy conditions.
Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said that while storms with these wind speeds tend to happen at this time of year, the one on its way is "quite a substantial system", adding that he would describe it as "pretty exceptional".
Mr Miall said Ophelia will have gone through a transition on its way across the Atlantic but will still bring "hurricane-force" winds.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier tweeted: "Defence forces being deployed in Red weather alert areas and on standby for further action (on Monday).
"Please check in with older neighbours and those who need medical care."
Meanwhile, airports are advising passengers in Ireland to check the latest information, with a number of Aer Lingus flights cancelled due to severe weather and the prospect of further cancellations with other carriers.
Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport are advising passengers to check the latest flight information before travelling to the airport, while Cork Airport said cancellations are likely.
Ryanair said: "We will inform customers in the event of any changes to our flight schedule and the latest flight information will be posted on the Ryanair.com website."
Bus Eireann said it will not run School Transport Scheme services on Monday in the counties of Waterford, Wexford, Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway and Mayo.
Loganair in Scotland is offering free flight changes on routes that could be hit by the severe weather conditions.
The airline said at the moment it still intends operating a normal full schedule on Monday and Tuesday.
The UK Military of Defence (MOD) has three battalions – 1,200 personnel in total – permanently on standby to assist with contingencies.
An MOD spokesman said it has not yet received requests from any local authority for assistance.
While Ireland and western parts of the British isles are battered by the hurricane, temperatures across the rest of the UK are set to rise by up to eight degrees.
In parts of Eastern England, including Cambridge and Lincoln, temperatures could rise as high as 24C.
Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge told The Sun Online: "While the western and northern parts of the UK will experience very strong winds, parts of eastern England will be breezy but potentially very warm for the time of year, with temperatures exceeding 20C.
"Isolated inland locations, such as Cambridge, Norwich and Lincoln, could see temperatures approaching 24C."
Buildings could well also be damaged in the windy weather.
Much of those areas will be hit by harsh winds of 55-65mph, while coastal areas will be smashed by winds that are up to 20mph stronger.
The hurricane has already washed up swarms of deadly 'jellyfish' onto beaches from Bournemouth in Dorset to Barmouth in North Wales.
The Portuguese man o' war, which is actually a colonial organism and not a jellyfish, have tentacles that can stretch out to 160ft (49 metres).
One sting can leave an adult swimmer in agony and even kill a small child.
Dozens more are expected to wash up as Ophelia continues to hurtle towards the UK and experts have warned parents to keep their children away from the sea creatures.
The "status red" weather alert impacts the western Irish counties of Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry.
The fierce storm comes as Brits sizzled in mini-heatwave temperatures over 20C this weekend.
The south east of England enjoyed some glorious warm and sunny spells, with temperatures well above average for the middle of October.
And the heat was only expected to increase in the same areas on Monday and Tuesday as the storm makes landfall.
This unseasonable spell is set to last into the start of the next week for southern areas when the west of Britain will be battered by strong winds.
A Met Office spokeswoman said: "The east side of the country certainly benefiting from some warmer temperatures into the weekend and at the start of next week."
She said temperatures will be "almost mid 20s" on Monday, possibly getting to around 25C (77F).
"Even up as far as Nottingham on Monday will see quite widely again 20C/21C, but may well see 22C/23C," she added.
A Met Office forecaster said: "It will be a tale of two halves, with winds coming into the north and the east hanging onto the nice weather with warmer temperatures."
A yellow warning for rain is in place until Saturday morning across parts of northern England, with up to 50mm of rain over high ground and as much as 70mm possible over the most exposed hills.
Monday will see a spell of "very windy weather" sweeping across western parts of the UK, according to the Met Office which has issued a yellow warning for wind early next week, with the potential for gusts of 80mph in coastal areas, particularly in Northern Ireland.
Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, and there could be power cuts, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.
Forecasters say some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs, is possible, and could lead to injuries and danger to life from flying debris, while coastal routes and sea fronts may be affected by spray or large waves.
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