Photo: James Corballis
Today, the Port was witness to one of the most ferocious storms to hit the city’s quays in recent times. Hurricane Ophelia had made it here the long way around. Having started its life in the warm waters off West Africa and ambling her way across the Atlantic Ocean. Originally classified as a Tropical Depression, she soon gathered pace and intensity and being upgraded to a Tropical Storm on 10th October. The following day, she was classified and named Ophelia, the 10th hurricane of the season. At this point she was some 750 miles south west of the Azores. On 14th October she was reclassified to a Category 3 Hurricane and had Ireland in its cross-hairs.
As mariners know, these storms are difficult to nail down and almost have a mind of their own. Ophelia, thankfully was a bit more predictable and stuck to the trajectory pretty much from the unlucky Friday the 13th onwards, with only a few speed wobbles along the way.
We are no strangers to Atlantic Depressions along the western seaboard and have experienced some deep depressions heretofore. The unknown with Ophelia was how much energy remained in the system, fueled by warm tropical moist air. We know all about deep depressions, but they are technically different from Ophelia.
At approximately 15:00hrs, Ophelia unleashed its enormous power in Galway Bay, having first left a trail of debris along the Kerry and Cork coasts. There has been only some minor damage at the Port, the dock gates are now closed and we are looking to reopen the Port for the AM tide on Tuesday, weather permitting. The MT Forth Fisher was hove to in Galway Bay while MT Galway Fisher remained at anchor throughout the peak period in the lee of Black Head.
Fortunately, we were not at spring tides as I have no doubt, Galway would have been dealing with a far greater emergency than we experienced today.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who were fatally injured as a result of Hurricane Ophelia today.