Low of -16 degrees recorded in coldest winter for 47 years


IT WAS the coldest winter in living memory for most people living in Ireland.

The winter just past proved to be the coldest since 1962/1963. It was marked by snow and ice which lasted from the middle of December to the middle of January.

Between January 7th and 9th, temperatures fell below -10 degrees at night in most places.

The lowest temperature of the winter occurred at Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny, where -16.3 degrees was recorded on January 7th.

Temperatures at Shannon airport were on average 2.7 degrees below normal for the winter and at Casement Aerodrome it was 2.6 degrees below normal.

There was a total of between 70 and 80 ground frosts during the season at inland stations, while Valentia Observatory’s total of 62 ground frosts was almost three times its average for the winter.

There were as many as 30 days with snow in parts of the east and west, mainly in the form of showers.

Peter Lennon, from Met Éireann’s climate division, said the cold was caused by high pressure which brings long, hot days in summer, but freezing temperatures during the winter.

“The weather has been in a bit of a pattern since mid-December. The typical winter set-up is for Atlantic depressions with rain, wind and fairly mild weather and the occasional week of cold weather. It has been the reverse this winter,” he said.

The high pressure also made for cold, clear conditions and both Cork airport and Valentia Observatory had the sunniest winters on record.

Mr Lennon said it was not correct to extrapolate from the cold winter experienced across Europe that global warming was no longer occurring.

He pointed out that January 2010 was the fourth warmest globally since records began in 1880, with higher than normal temperatures experienced across the Arctic regions in particular.

The weather systems that brought the cold weather are set to continue this week with no respite from the unseasonably low temperatures.

Daytime highs of between 6 and 9 degrees are below average for the time of year and there will be freezing temperatures at night.