Warmer days but more rain dispels sunny outlook

Feeling a bit warmer and a good bit wetter? That will be our weather then, according to a new study of long-term weather patterns published by Met Éireann yesterday.

A new data set looking at Ireland’s weather from 1981 to 2010, released by Met Éireann yesterday, shows a 0.5ºC increase in average temperature compared with the period from 1961 to 1990, and a 5% increase in rainfall.

Met Éireann said the increase in temperatures was “a significant finding” and confirmed the effects of global warning. However, it urged caution over the rise in rainfall, claiming that, due to the natural variability of our weather, it was not as simple as saying that the country is getting wetter — although it can certainly feel that way.

The increase in average rainfall means the country was effectively getting an extra month’s rain in the period from 1981 to 2010 than in the comparable period from 1961 to 1990.

The study, entitled A Study of Climate Averages for Ireland 1981-2010, was compiled by meteorologist Seamus Walsh after crunching 10 million pieces of data over the 30-year period, gathered from more than 750 individual weather stations.

It throws up a number of findings: for example, May is the sunniest month of the year and July the warmest; spring is actually drier than summer, but autumn is typically warmer than spring; and if you live in the west you are more likely to get rain.

The rise in temperature is even more marked when comparing the period from 1961 to 1980 with that from 1991 to 2010 — the temperature increased by 0.75ºC, a finding described by Gerald Fleming of Met Éireann as “very significant”.

“My own belief, and that of the vast majority of meteorologists working in the area, is that we are living in a warmer world,” he said, adding that in recent times the rate of temperature rise was “accelerating”.

The temperature rise chimes with figures for the US, but in other ways our weather patterns are our own.

For example, rainfall rose in the month of June by 15% and rainfall across the southern half of the country has increased by more than 10% during summer.

The new data shows that if you draw a line from Cork to Donegal, the western half will receive more annual rainfall and the eastern half will be drier.

Mr Walsh said he was unable to state which part of the country had the “best” weather, but it seems that Dublin is less likely to have rain and the south-east is actually sunny.

Much of the data was done by voluntary observers and Mr Fleming admits that cutbacks had hampered work at Met Éireann: “There are always things we would like to be doing if we had the resources.”

The new data is likely to be used by agencies such as the Office of Public Works and by local authorities to influence policy on flooding patterns and drinking water requirements.

*www.met.ie


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