'Soft day' will become thing of the past - expert

Tue, Sep 9, 2008, 01:00

The traditional Irish "soft day", with clouds and drizzle drifting in from the Atlantic, could be a thing of the past, a weather expert told a conference in Dublin today.

The age-old term for a day’s rain might be one for the history books with the Irish climate expected to turn angrier and the country to suffer short, but heavier downpours, according to British Met Office scientist Dr Martin Parry

Speaking at the fourth annual Environment Ireland conference, organised by the Environmental Protection Agency, at Croke Park, Dr Parry said Ireland can expect wetter winters, warmer, drier summers, and heavier rainfalls when they occur as temperatures increase.

“In Ireland, the soft day will be a thing of the past. Rainfall will be heavier and more sudden. The year will be drier, the summer will be drier, but winters will be wetter.

“Northern Europe will benefit in a way but southern Europe will pay a cost.”

His future predictions were in marked contrast to a dreadful summer experienced by the country that has gone down in history as the wettest in nearly half a century, according to Met Éireann records.

But Dr Parry said the country should count its blessings with global warming set to have a devastating effect on the southern hemisphere.

He estimated more than one billion people will suffer from severe water shortages as temperatures rise by almost half a degree and eventually reaching over three billion people as it climbs by one degree.