La Niña ‘may be responsible’ for dry spring weather

Shifting weather patterns trigger high latitude blocking of fronts that cause wind, rain

The glorious spring weather is set to continue for the rest of this week with high pressure keeping the clouds away.

Temperatures will be above average for the time of year with highs towards the end of the week of 16 degrees.

It looks more unsettled though entering the May bank holiday weekend.

Met Éireann’s climate division said the exceptionally dry weather may be down to the presence of La Niña, the change in warmth of the ocean current in the Pacific Ocean which affects climate worldwide.

Weather patterns have shifted, leading to more high latitude blocking of weather fronts that cause wind and rain and this has brought drier conditions for northwestern Europe during April so far, it explained.

It has been an exceptionally dry spring to date. Many places have had less than half the average monthly rainfall for April following on from a dry March.

Dublin Airport has had just 20.6mm of rain for the month with no more rain forecast this week. The average for April is 54.1mm.

Climate trend

The March and April months of 2020 and 2021, which corresponded with the Covid-19 lockdowns, were also dry.

However, Met Éireann stressed that dry months in three consecutive years is not long enough to infer a climate trend and are more likely to be a result of natural variability.

“There is no indication of spring getting drier going back over the last 10 years of the climate,” said Met Éireann.

“The spring precipitation in 2019 was above average, 2020 below average, 2021 only slightly below average overall with several stations above average. March and April were dry in 2021, but May was well above average. This year March and April are running below average, but there is still over a month left in spring.”

Met Éireann added that climate projection models for Ireland suggest that by the middle of the century there will be more prolonged dry and wet spells as a result of global warning.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times