Irish meteorologists issue 'Status Red' as Hurricane Ophelia closes in

The center of Ophelia "will pass to the south and southeast of the southeastern Azores by tonight", forecasters said.

According to JLT Re's Hurricane Activity report, as of 8am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) today (13 October) Ophelia had strengthened to a Cat 2 Hurricane, with peak wind speeds of 104 miles per hour.

The rainfall could trigger flooding, it warned. Ophelia is expected to produce total rainfall of 2-4 inches (50-100 millimeters) over the southeastern Azores through Saturday night.

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Thursday were near 85 miles per hour with some slight strengthening possible over the next day or two.

The authorities imposed traffic restrictions on the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria, which are expected to see the worst of the hurricane.

The Miami-based hurricane center says the British Isles, including Ireland, should be watching the storm's progress.

The warning kicks into place at 8am on Monday morning, and will last through until just before midnight.

Met √Čirann has issued a yellow weather warning for Ireland, adding that Ophelia "has the potential to be a high-impact event in parts of the country".

Mean wind speeds in excess of 80 km per hour and gusts in excess of 130 km per hour are expected, potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with risky marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding, the service said.