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Rare north Atlantic hurricane heads for Ireland, UK...

Rare north Atlantic hurricane heads for Ireland, UK...

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Dublin (AFP) - Britain and Ireland braced Sunday for a lashing from Ophelia, the largest hurricane ever recorded so far east in the Atlantic Ocean, after it dumped heavy rains on Portugal's Azores islands.

As the storm passed near the Azores archipelago on Saturday it was classed Category 3, which means it packed winds of at least 178 kilometres (110 miles) per hour.

Though cooler seas will weaken the storm as it churns towards the west coast of Ireland, it still has enough power to damage buildings and provoke "dangerous" sea conditions as well as potential flooding, Irish authorities said.

Meteorologists say Ophelia is the most powerful hurricane recorded so far east in the Atlantic and the first since 1939 to travel so far north.

It is the 15th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic season, which is expected to last until the end of November.

Three major hurricanes -- Harvey, Irma and Maria -- caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast.

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