Record-breaking sunshine not over yet


THREE MORE days of “wall-to-wall” sun are expected as Ireland basks in unseasonable temperatures higher yesterday than in Barcelona and Crete.

Temperatures rose above 20 degrees in some parts of the country yesterday, mainly in the north-west.

A new March record was set for Belmullet, Co Mayo, where a temperature of 20.4 degrees was reached. Temperatures of 18 degrees were widespread but eastern and southern areas were cooler, with highs of about 13 degrees in Cork.

Prolonged sunshine and a milder airflow combined to bring about these unseasonable conditions, Met Éireann weather forecaster Harm Luijkx said.

A high-pressure area centred over the UK was dominating the weather in much of western Europe and keeping the sky clear so there was “wall-to-wall sunshine”, Mr Luijkx said.

A southeastern airflow was also bringing mild air from southern Europe, he added.

There will be little or no change at least until Thursday, with temperatures of 20 degrees expected in some places and in the high teens in many areas, Mr Luijkx said. “There will be warm days with plenty of sunshine, while nights will be cool as temperatures drop quickly after dark,” he said. Coastal fringes of the south and east may experience cooler weather due to onshore winds, he added.

The weekend will be sunny but much cooler, and temperatures will be back to normal values, Met Éireann has predicted. “It will be low teens at best but there is still a lot of dry weather and good sunshine,” Mr Luijkx said.

Temperatures in Ireland yesterday were on par with or above many holiday destinations, with forecasts for Rhodes at 18, Malaga at 19 and Tenerife at 20 – but not as hot as in Paris or Nice, which enjoyed 21 degrees.

A reading of 20.7 degrees recorded at Phoenix Park, Dublin on Sunday was the highest there at the time of year for almost 50 years. Just one other year in the past decade saw March temperatures above 20 degrees, when Valentia recorded 20.7 degrees in 2005.

The highest temperature ever recorded in March in Ireland was 23.4 at Phoenix Park station on March 19th, 1965. A temperature of 21.7 degrees was recorded at Birr in March 1929 and in 1946 it reached 20.5 at Mullingar.

A warning over wildfires and the dangers of illegal burning was issued as the warm spell continues. “The highest-risk period occurs between March and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry,” said Adrian Kelly, Co Clare chief fire officer.

Blazes last year caused some €20 million in damage and destroyed 16,000 hectares of land.

The cloudless skies are also making for perfect stargazing, and Astronomy Ireland has urged people to watch for the moon, Venus and Jupiter next to each other at twilight tonight. It will set up telescopes for the public on Thursday to view Mars, which is at its closest for two years.