Yellow weather alert issued as highs of 30 degrees forecast

Safety appeal as no end in sight to heat-wave

 Alex Kucovs from Latvia/ Portmarnock joins swimmers, sunbathers and sandcastle makers on Portmarnock Beach today.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Alex Kucovs from Latvia/ Portmarnock joins swimmers, sunbathers and sandcastle makers on Portmarnock Beach today.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 19:37

Met Éireann has issued a yellow weather alert heading into the weekend, indicating temperatures of as high as 30 degrees continuing into next week.

Bathers are being warned to swim in their depth and in safe, supervised places to avoid a continuation of the recent high levels of drowning.

With seven people having died in as many days, Irish Water Safety says more people are flocking to Irish beaches than they have for the last two decades.

The consistent spell of fine weather - not seen since 2006 - is expected to continue into this weekend and next week, with no end in sight.

Temperatures reached as high as 27 degrees today and are likely to rise by as much as a degree tomorrow. This summer’s record remains at 29.6 degrees, recorded in Carlow.

However, severe health and safety warnings have been repeated this weekend to a population not entirely used to such conditions.

“We have lost seven people in seven days; we think that is a record since the 1970s when a boat capsized in Galway, to have so many people killed in one week,” explained John Leech, chief executive of Irish Water Safety.

“Almost two generations have failed to learn how to swim in open water [because of previously poor water quality].

“What has happened with this heat-wave is that the water quality is possibly the best in Europe and we have not thousands, not tens of thousands of people swimming in our water here but hundreds of thousands.”

Whether further drowning occurs, what is for certain is that Ireland’s waterways will remain extremely crowded in the days ahead.

Met Éireann says that by tomorrow, it is likely every area of Ireland will officially enter a state of “absolute drought”, where there has been little (less than 0.2 of one millimetre) or no rain for a period of 15 days.

Tomorrow, forecasted temperatures will reach low to mid twenties in the east and as high as 28 degrees in the west.

“The rest of this week will be as sunny as it is now, and through the weekend but having said that there is a small risk of a few showers toward the end of the weekend,” said forecaster Harm Louijkx.

“It’s not going to take away from the general picture. It looks like it’s going to stay quite warm.”

However, with a ten day window for accuracy, it is impossible to forecast how long this unlikely Irish summer is set to last.

The Irish Cancer Society has also issued a warning for people to protect themselves from harmful UV rays, insisting: “tanned skin is damaged skin”.

“The big message is to get out and enjoy the sun but to do it in a way that doesn’t increase the levels of skin cancer,” said health promotion officer Rosemary Scott.

Those basking in the rays are encouraged to wear sunscreen, UV protection sunglasses, to seek shade and cover up in appropriate clothing.

“When you see kids out and about there is no need for them to have a tan. It’s that damage that builds up year on year that leads to problems later on.”

Weather by numbers

3.7 Degrees – The difference between this summer’s record high temperature and the all time Irish record of 33.3 degrees, set in 1887.

2006– The last time the country experienced a similar consistency in summer weather, according to Met Éireann.

400 – The approximate number of lifeguards on duty this weekend.

8 – The number of daily hours UV rays will remain harmful, up from the normal time frame of four.

7 – Sadly, the number of people who drowned recently in the course of a single week.