Hurricane Ophelia causes destruction, travel chaos and a ‘blood orange’ sun

Hurricane Ophelia has hit Ireland and is en-route to Britain, bringing wind, chaos and bizarre phenomena to the isles.

A quarter of a million homes across Ireland lost power while communications were also disrupted as the storm hit on Monday, and it continued its path across Britain on Tuesday morning. The strongest wind recorded was 109mph, at Fastnet. Cumbria experienced peaks of 70mph on Monday night.

A man uses a chain saw to to cut up a fallen tree, which had landed over a road Lisdoonvarna, Ireland

Wales, the Isle of Man and Southern Scotland are expected to be further affected on Tuesday, with weather and flood warnings in place across Scotland and northern England. Roads, rail and air services have been affected, with people warned not to travel unless their journey is necessary.

Saltcoats on the west coast of Scotland as Storm Ophelia hits Britain’s west coast.

Tragically, three people have so far died in the storm, according to the BBC. One young woman in her 50s was killed after a tree fell onto her car in Waterford, while a man in County Louth died in a similar incident. The third death occurred after a chainsaw accident in Tipperary involving a man in his 30s who was removing a felled tree.

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Storm watchers go to West Bay as the sky darkens and storm Ophelia hits the South West. ©Tom Corban/REX/Shutterstock

Across much of Britain, with the worst of the weather still set to strike, a strange phenomenon was witnessed: a sun the colour of a blood orange, set in a gloomy sky that produced a quality of light not dissimilar to that seen during an eclipse.

The explanation given by meteorologists is that the storm was so powerful that it has thrown tonnes of dust and sand miles into the atmosphere. Those particles, still being carried by the weather system, disrupt the blue light shining from the sun, thus leaving it with a red hue.

Storm Ophelia has whipped up dusted from the Sahara, giving the the sky a red/yellow tint as the storm moves towards Ireland and west coast of the UK. ©Graham Stone/REX/Shutterstock

So unusual is the phenomenon, particularly in tandem with the unseasonably warm temperature, that much of the country is currently in a state that almost seems other-worldly.

Windsurfers enjoy the strong winds bought in by Storm Ophelia in Portland harbour, Dorset. ©Finbarr Webster/REX/Shutterstock

Further winds are expected to hit Britain on Tuesday as the storm moves across to the east of Scotland and Yorkshire.

Graphic maps yellow warning of wind from the Met Office. See story WEATHER Ophelia. Editable versions of this graphic are available via PA Graphics or your account manager. Infographic from PA Graphics