Gusts of up to 140km/h expected along coast


THE OLD year went out like a lamb, but the new one has arrived like a lion. After a Christmas and new year period that has been one of the mildest on record, the next few days are likely to see a radical change in conditions.

There has already been snow in the northwest in the first days of the new year. Stormy conditions developed overnight with the west coast being battered with 100 to 120km/h winds particularly in the coastal areas of the southwest, west and north. There was also some heavy driving rain.

The gale force winds will persist this morning with damaging gusts of between 120-140km/h in the exposed coastal and hilly areas of the northwest and north where showers will turn wintry in places.

The abrupt change in the weather is as a result of a winter Atlantic storm with strong winds from the west.

Met Éireann forecaster Pat Clarke said there was a possibility of storm damage in the north and northwest. The east of the country will be very windy with the possibility of strong winds gusting at 90 to 100km/h.

He said the dominant weather pattern of the winter had seen winds coming from the south and west, which had made it extremely mild for the time of the year but had also created the risk of winter storms.

By contrast, the winds that created the big freezes in 2010 came from the north and east.

Fortunately, the weather is likely to get a lot milder again after tomorrow, although not as mild as it was on Christmas Day.

Met Éireann’s monthly summary for December showed that Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day were the warmest days of the month, with the temperature peaking at 13.7 degrees in Carlow on Christmas Day.

By contrast Christmas Day in 2010 was one of the coldest on record.

Almost all parts of the country had a warmer December than normal.

Malin Head and Belmullet both reported that their minimum air temperatures in December, of 2 degrees and 1.6 degrees respectively, were the warmest minimum temperatures since 1988.

Overall, 2011 was warmer than normal, particularly through autumn and winter.

Belmullet, Casement Aerodrome and Claremorris all recorded temperatures nearly a degree above normal for the year. Only Cork airport (0.3 degrees above normal) recorded an insignificant rise in temperature.

A temperature of 25.7 degrees was recorded in Phoenix Park on September 28th, the highest September temperature in 105 years.

November was also the warmest on record in many parts of the country.

The lowest temperature was a relatively mild minus 8.3 degrees recorded at Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, on January 29th.

There was a clear east-west split in terms of rainfall, with western stations in the main recording above average amounts of rainfall, while those in the east were normal or below normal.

However the values were skewed by a deluge of rain which hit the Dublin area on October 28th and caused widespread flooding.