Hurricane Ophelia's transition

Hurricane Ophelia's transition

11–16 October 2017

Hurricane Ophelia's transition
Hurricane Ophelia's transition

In mid-October Ophelia transitioned from a hurricane to a mid-latitude low, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to parts of Ireland and the UK.

Last Updated

10 October 2022

Published on

11 October 2017

By HansPeter Roseli (Switzerland), Jose Prieto (EUMETSAT), Ivan Smiljanic (SCISYS), Sancha Lancaster (Pactum) and Jörg Asmus (DWD)

Ophelia formed as a tropical depression on 9 October, out of a decaying cold front that had stalled over the North Atlantic.

 HRV image, tainted with values from the near infrared channels of Meteosat, at sunset on 14 October around 18:00 UTC, when the system passed south of Azores.
Figure 1: HRV image, tainted with values from the near infrared channels of Meteosat, at sunset on 14 October around 18:00 UTC, when the system passed south of Azores.
 
 GOES-16 Natural Colour RGB, 13 October 08:30 UTC
Figure 2: GOES-16 Natural Colour RGB, 13 October 08:30 UTC

Due to favourable conditions — still reasonably warm sea surface temperatures, below-average temperatures aloft and low wind shear — the storm became a hurricane on 11 October.

After becoming a Category 2 hurricane on 12 October and fluctuating in intensity for a day, Ophelia unexpectedly rapidly intensified and was declared by the National Hurricane Center to be a Category 3 hurricane on 14 October, while south of the Azores.

Figure 2 is the GOES-16 Natural Color RGB from 13 October at 08:30 UTC, showing Ophelia as it was still intensifying into a major hurricane.

Shortly after achieving peak intensity, Ophelia began to quickly weaken as it accelerated towards Britain and Ireland, becoming extratropical early on 16 October.

The Meteosat-10 Airmass RGB animation, from 15 October 06:00 UTC to 16 October 09:00 UTC, shows the transition of Ophelia from a hurricane to a mid-latitude low.

 Meteosat-10 Airmass RGB, animated gif, 15 October 18:00 UTC to 16 October 09:00 UTC
Figure 3: Meteosat-10 Airmass RGB, 15 October 18:00 UTC-16 October 09:00 UTC

It is interesting to see how the remnants of the hurricane clouds moved up to the Outer Hebrides by the end of the animation.

On the animated gif of the Meteosat-10 Airmass RGB (Figure 3), compromising of four frames at 18:00 UTC on 15 October and 00:00, 06:00 and 09:00 UTC on 16 October, the red arrows indicate the cloud clusters of ex-hurricane Ophelia, as it travelled over the UK and Ireland.

Figure 4 depicts, at three hourly intervals, Ophelia's progress across the Atlantic towards northern latitudes, when it accelerated its pace to dissolve close to Ireland.

This is seen by the minimum values of brightness temperature in the images in the period from 13 October at 12:00 UTC until 16 October 09:00 UTC.

Ophelia brought strong winds, with gusts of 176km/h (109mph) recorded at Fastnet Rock. Large waves were seen on the coasts of Ireland and the UK.

At least three people were reported to have died when the storm hit Ireland and more than 380,000 properties were left without power in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

 Ophelia's progress 13 October 12:00 UTC–16 October 09:00 UTC
Figure 4: Ophelia's progress 13 October 12:00 UTC–16 October 09:00 UTC

The Meteosat-9 Natural Colour RGB Rapid Scan animation, created by meteorologists at DWD, shows Ophelia's journey over six days, from 11 October to 16 October.

Note: NOAA's GOES-16 satellite has not been declared operational and its data are preliminary and undergoing testing.


Additional content

Ex-hurricane Ophelia over Ireland and the United Kingdom (CIMSS Blog)
Ex-Hurricane OPHELIA's landfall in Ireland (Michael Sachweh/YouTube)
OPHELIA - Ein Stormchase der besonderen Art (Wetterzentrale Forum, in German)
Ex-hurricane Ophelia passes after 90mph winds (Met Office)
Hurricane Ophelia: Schools closed and thousands without power (BBC News)
Three die as Storm Ophelia batters Ireland and Britain (The Guardian)