Ophelia: Co Down coast was hit the hardest

A fallen tree is cleared from a road off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast as clear up begins after storm Ophelia.''Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A fallen tree is cleared from a road off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast as clear up begins after storm Ophelia.''Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Co Down coast endured the strongest storm Ophelia winds to batter Northern Ireland on Monday, forecasters said.

Emma Sharples of the Met Office said the 71mph gusts at Orlock Head near Groomsport were not particularly unusual, other than the fact they were generated by a hurricane.

“We have to go back a fair way to find remnants of a hurricane that came across the UK,” she said.

The second strongest winds on Monday were recorded at Katesbridge in Co Down.

“In terms of wind speeds, it’s not unusual to see speeds of the sort we saw yesterday (Monday),” the forecaster said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State James Brokenshire has praised the emergency services who risked their own safety to help others.

“I want to pay tribute to the efforts of everyone from the civil contingency groups and the emergency services who have been working diligently to help keep people safe.

“The close co-operation between these groups mean that effective action was taken to ensure people’s lives were protected.”

Mr Brokenshire went on to say: “What we have seen over the last 48 hours is the resilience of Northern Ireland, the resourcefulness and community spirit of its people, and the commitment and professionalism of Northern Ireland’s front line responders.”

Head of the Civil Service David Sterling said: “The people of Northern Ireland are indebted to them individually and collectively for their professionalism and perseverance.”

Another storm, named Brian by the Met Office, is expected to bring winds of up to 80mph to parts of the UK within days.