Greater frequency of Ophelia-scale storms in future, says Minister Naughten

Published by Niall Sargent on

October 17th, 2017

The Minister for Climate Action has warned that Ireland must brace itself for more storms on the scale of Ophelia as a result of climate change.

Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Drivetime last night, Denis Naughten, TD, said that Ireland is likely to see more storms like Ophelia as well as “a prevalence of flooding far more severe than we’ve seen historically”.

The storm claimed the lives of three people and left over 330,000 ESB customers without power as Ireland deals with the aftermath of ex-hurricane Ophelia.

Gusts in excess of 120 km/h were recorded at Cork Airport yesterday morning, with winds of 190km/h recorded at Fastnet Rock, the most southerly point of Ireland, at 11.30am yesterday.

Mr Naughten said that there as our climate is changing, such extreme weather events are “going to happen with far greater frequency”.

“We need to address the impact of climate change both in terms of adapting to that and taking measures to ensure that things that don’t get any worse,” he added.

Coordination and Preparation

Speaking this morning, Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan, TD said that the Government must prepare for “more common exceptional weather events” as a result of climate change.

Paying tribute to authorities and public who handled storm with “humour, kindness and co-widespread operation”, Mr Ryan said that we should use the “same spirit to tackle the cause of climate change”.

“While the Government and authorities took the storm seriously, and implemented a nation-wide Status Red weather warning, there was a delay in getting information out to all communities, particularly the delay in providing the information through Irish Sign Language (ISL),” he added.

“We also need to improve procedures so that so many people are not turning up for work, only to be sent home straight away. Likewise, we need better co-ordination around the operation and closure of public transport and other key services during red weather warnings.”

‘Breeding ground’ for tropical cyclones

A 2013 study in Geophysical Research Letters found that the rise in Atlantic tropical sea surface temperatures creates a “breeding ground” for tropical cyclones further eastward.

According to the paper, this will lead to “more frequent and intense hurricanes following pathways directed toward Europe”.

“Our model simulations clearly show that future tropical cyclones are more prone to hit Western Europe, and do so earlier in the season, thereby increasing the frequency and impact of hurricane force winds,” the authors of the study said.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London