Ireland is facing a storm unlike any seen for a number of decades, but luckily we have the wonders of technology to track its path.
Those with longer memories will remember the names of Debbie and Charley, two hurricanes that hit Ireland in 1961 and 1986, respectively.
Now, at the time of writing, Ireland is bracing itself for Storm Ophelia, which is starting to make landfall on the Cork coast.
The Irish weather service Met Éireann said that rain can be expected, though the heaviest and most significant downpour will remain over the Atlantic Ocean.
It is the coastal counties that will face the greatest damage, with gusts predicted of up to 130kph in these parts, particularly on the south coast.
With lives potentially at risk, Met Éireann has also placed the entire country on status red alert, discouraging anyone from venturing outside when the storm is at its most severe over the course of the next 24 hours.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, has taken to Twitter to inform people that they are best advised to stay home today, with many public services confirming that they will not be running or are planning to end service early.
Public safety is our key concern today. Advice is to stay at home, no unnecessary travel or other outdoor activities. Further updates later.
— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) October 16, 2017
For those of you who will now be spending the majority of your day indoors away from many possible dangers, the wonders of technology can enable you to track Ophelia’s path in minute detail – enough to turn you into an amateur meteorologist.
Here are just a few resources to keep you occupied and, most importantly, informed on the storm’s course.
Since I downloaded the Windy app onto my phone some time back, my default weather app has been abandoned.
Available on both mobile and desktop, Windy’s technology is based upon nonhydrostatic meso-scale modelling (NMM), which creates calculations based on ‘domains’ made up of large areas covering parts of or entire continents.
In essence, it is a real-time Google Maps for weather.
For local weather information, typing a location (taking Dublin as an example) will show much greater detail, with different weather data available for viewing as well as the ability to examine local live webcams streaming from various locations across the city to get a visual feel for what the storm looks like.
Another neat feature is that you can hit play at the bottom of the screen to show its predicted progress across the span of days, down to the hour, which proves very useful.
Another option out there is Sat24, a service that provides a regularly updated satellite feed of Europe’s weather, currently including the large, swirling mass of Storm Ophelia.
While not as detailed as Windy, it will still give a good indication of what the storm actually looks like from space rather than relying on visualised data.
Of course Twitter was going to be a recommendation. Not only is Met Éireann keeping everyone regularly updated on Ophelia’s current strength, but it is also providing updates from people in the affected areas.
Out-of-this-world tweets include this incredible shot of Ophelia from space, which was posted by the UN Climate Change account.
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) October 14, 2017
Keep an eye on the trending hashtag for Ophelia as many of the most important updates you need to know will be featured there.
It would also be advisable to turn on push notifications for updates from Met Éireann to stay on top of the latest information as the storm hits land.
Latest high gusts:
148km/h (80knots) at Fastnet Rock.
107km/h (58kts) at Roches Point.#ophelia
— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) October 16, 2017
— Sarah Kavanagh (@sltlk) October 16, 2017
One app that might be considered more niche, but nonetheless important on an agricultural island such as Ireland, is FarmHedge on Android and iOS.
Launched last year by Dr John Garvey from University of Limerick, FarmHedge is a free smartphone app that provides farmers with on-farm alerts directly relevant to agricultural activities.
While typically used for your average challenges of daily Irish weather, the app is still a worthy mention for any farmer out there to see what Ophelia is set to bring over the course of the day.
Storm off the coast of Portnablagh, Co Donegal, in 2016. Image: Lukassek/Shutterstock