Winter returns: Ireland braces for incoming polar air mass

Balmy conditions not set to last, with temperatures due to plummet as low as –3

Temperatures are set to drop below zero this week. Heavy frost in Dublin’s Herbert Park, December 2014. Photograph: Eric Luke

Temperatures are set to drop below zero this week. Heavy frost in Dublin’s Herbert Park, December 2014. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Temperatures are set to fall this week below average for this time of year, to as low as minus three in some parts of the country, according to Met Éireann, and remain low for the foreseeable future.

On Friday The Irish Times ran a story on how extraordinarily mild the weather has been and how nature has awoken prematurely from its winter slumber.

We invited readers to send photographs of spring’s early arrival. Dozens sent pictures of daffodils, irises and roses in bloom; of butterflies, ladybirds and even ticks who shouldn’t be expected for several months yet.

In sport it is called the “commentator’s curse”. A commentator will remark on how well a team or an individual is playing, only for things to take a dramatic turn for the worse moments later.

This display of hubris has clearly displeased the weather gods as it is about to get dramatically colder.

“A real blast of winter is coming,” warned Met Éireann forecaster Siobhan Ryan. Temperatures around Christmas were four degrees above normal for the time and that carried on into the New Year period. Now they are going to be lower than normal for the foreseeable future, she says.

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Ms Ryan explained that the current air mass over the country originated in the Azores and has brought very mild temperatures and a long, settled period.

That air mass is being replaced by one with colder air from the polar region, which is more common this time of year.

On Tuesday night, “we are going to see a cold front making inroads and this marks the beginning of a change,” she says.

Wednesday will be cold during the day with temperatures between just four and seven degrees.

Wednesday night will be particularly cold with the possibility of temperatures around the country of minus three.

It will get even colder on Thursday with highs of between three and five degrees, which is colder than normal for January.

It is going to feel even colder, she says, because of the balmy weather we are experiencing currently.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for the cold conditions to continue, but snow is “very unlikely” she says, except in high mountains in Donegal.

“The general trend is for colder weather for the rest of the month,” she said.