Drought fears as long, hot summer continues into another week

Gathering events benefit from sunshine

The good news is that the glorious summer weather is set to continue for at least another week. The bad news is that drought conditions are emerging, especially in the south and southeast.

Soil moisture deficits, which Met Éireann uses to measure the wetness of soils, are approaching 50mm-60mm in some places.

This means that at least two inches of rain will be needed to bring soil moisture levels back up to normal.

This is starting to have implications for farmers in the eastern half of the country who may soon start feeding back the silage they have already cut to feed their livestock.


Teagasc nutrition specialist Siobhán Kavanagh said: "Farmers that are more heavily stocked will have to start going in with silage and with rationing in the next few weeks. If we don't have the grass growth, we are recommending that they go back in with supplements to make up the deficit. Otherwise they won't be able to sustain performance."

She acknowledged that the dry weather, if it continued, was unfortunate for some farmers who had already had a difficult year with the long, cold spring which inhibited grass growth.

It will also have knock-on implications for the fodder situation next winter, although a spell of rain could transform the situation.

However, very little if any rain is forecast this week. The recent spell of good weather has met Met Éireann’s definition of a heatwave, with five days of weather with temperatures five degrees above normal for the time of year.

The definition of a drought, which is 15 consecutive days with less than 0.2mm of rain, will also be met in most places this week, according to Met Éireann forecaster Deirdre Lowe.

She said this could have implications also for the forestry sector with an elevated chance of fires in bone-dry conditions.

Temperatures this week will be in the high teens to low 20s in the west and north while they will be in their mid-20s in the midlands and east.

Next weekend it will start to get hot again,with temperatures on Friday of 27 degrees and the possibility of those temperatures being exceeded on Sunday and Monday next week.

It augurs well for one of the centrepiece events of The Gathering focusing on Riverdance next weekend – an outdoor Riverdance céilí on Saturday in Merrion Square. Other events for the The Gathering took place at the weekend, including the first Peter O'Malley international invitational baseball tournament at Corkagh Demesne Park in Clondalkin, west Dublin.

The tournament was named for O’Malley, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1970-1998, in recognition of his contribution to promoting the sport in Ireland, including youth development.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times