What is provisionally being described as the hottest ever August day in Ireland has been recorded, with the temperature reaching 31.7 degrees in Co Carlow, Met Éireann has said.
The temperature, yet to be formally confirmed, was slightly above the previous 31.5 degrees recorded at the same Oak Park station in August, 1995 and at Ballybrittas, Co Laois in 1975.
A temperature of 31.7C is about 11.8C above the long-term average in an almost 30-year timeframe, the forecaster added.
The previous August temperature record stood for almost 27 years but the latest one is likely to only last a day. An even hotter day is forecast on Saturday with 32 degrees in some places “quite possible”, said Met Éireann forecaster Andrew Doran-Sherlock.
One high-resolution weather model, Meteologix, is predicting a localised temperature of 33 degrees around Kilkenny city where the highest temperature ever recorded in Ireland of 33.3 degrees occurred on June 26th, 1887. Mr Doran-Sherlock cautioned that it was “highly unlikely” that its official record stations will record a temperature in excess of 33.3 degrees.
Eighteen weather stations had recorded temperatures of 25 degrees or higher as of 4pm on Friday. Not since the summer of 1995 has a temperature of 30 degrees plus been recorded in two successive summer months.
A status yellow high temperature warning for the entire country remains in place until 6am on Monday to take into account conditions through Sunday night.
“[Saturday] is looking like it will see the highest temperatures,” Mr Doran-Sherlock added. “It will still be quite high temperatures on Sunday but a cooling down and there is a signal for thundery showers to break out so you could see some localised flooding happen.”
Next week will see the temperatures fall toward the normal range and usher in the kind of unsettled conditions that should bring much needed rain.
Irish Water said 32 of its water supplies are now officially in drought, with dozens more in potential drought. Its National Incident Management Team met on Friday morning to discuss the “escalating” situation.
Tom Cuddy, head of asset operations at the utility, said the number in drought is likely to increase, with this weekend being particularly challenging.
“Demand is extremely high. In the urban areas in the greater Dublin area the usage is over 40 million litres greater per day today than this day last week. In holiday resorts and agricultural areas it is much higher,” he said.
The public has been asked to continue conserving use to help ensure critical supplies can be maintained over the coming weeks.
Water restrictions have been put in place in a number of locations, including parts of west Cork, Kerry and Galway. More than 60 supplies around the country are being closely monitored.
On Friday evening, Irish Water announced that “due to the increase in demand during the recent hot weather”, and aggravated by the lack of rain, night time water restrictions will be in place in Cape Clear from 8.30pm to 7.30am throughout the weekend “and until further notice”.
UCC climate scientist and weather analyst Cathal Nolan said it was unusual this year to have two occasions in which temperatures are likely to exceed 30 degrees.
With public safety at risk due to the extreme weather conditions, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has asked people to be aware of potential causes of fire and said recent hot weather had led to “increased fire activity” linked to public recreation activities.
Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan asked that people not light fires. Echoing that appeal for public buy-in, Wicklow’s chief fire officer Aidan Dempsey said it was “salad weather, not barbecue weather”.
Meanwhile, new research from the Irish Cancer Society found one-third of people underestimate the threat posed by the sun and are “not at all worried” about sunburn in Ireland.
The survey, conducted by Core Research for the charity, also found although just a third would apply sun cream regularly, nearly one in seven would never apply sun cream when in Ireland. This rises to one in five among men.
Kevin O’Hagan, cancer prevention manager with the Irish Cancer Society, said sun safety is “vital”.
“Even on cloudy days in Ireland, UV rays can damage skin cells. Taking steps like applying sunscreen, covering up by wearing a hat and sunglasses and seeking shade can reduce your risk of skin cancer,” he said.
“Knowing your local UV index is also important, as when the UV index is higher than three, you need to protect your skin.”