West beats East in last month’s sunshine stakes

April set records for dry weather but warnings of showers and cold temperatures for the rest of May

Lots of sunshine, high temperatures, and light winds — has the summer already come and gone? We will have to wait and see, following what was the sunniest and driest April on record for many parts of the country.

Most areas basked in glorious weather during the month, according to the latest figures from Met Éireann, but the weather was also very mixed. While Cork had the driest April in more than 50 years, some parts of the country experienced higher than average rainfall.

The sunniest spot was Shannon in Co Clare, followed by Cork City and Belmullet, Co Mayo.

“The amount of sunshine was quite surprising,” said Met Éireann climatologist Ruth Coughlan, who compiled the report.

“The fluctuation in temperatures was also interesting, from a science point of view. The highest temperatures were very high and the lowest very low. The highest were up to two and a half degrees above what is normal for that time of year while temperatures got as low as -4C in some places which is unusual. Malin Head, for instance, recorded its lowest grass temperature in 59 years.”

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Ms Coughlan added that, although it was unusually dry in most parts, there were no periods of drought recorded anywhere around the country during April.

“The reason why is that periods without any rain were not long or continuous,” said Ms Coughlan. “We got a low sprinkling of rain every few days.”

Many stations had their driest April conditions in decades. The month’s wettest day nationally was April 2, when 22.7mm or nearly a sixth of total monthly rainfall fell within 24 hours.

Stations in southern coastal counties had extremely dry conditions, with most reporting 30% or less of their long-term average (LTA).

The month’s lowest percentage of LTA and lowest monthly rainfall was recorded at Cork Airport. The city had the driest April since the weather station opened in 1962.

The west did best in the sunshine stakes, Ms Coughlan confirmed. “Shannon airport recorded the sunniest April in 69 years, while Cork equalled its highest on record, which goes back 53 years,” she said.

“Belmullet in Co Mayo had the highest sunshine total in 58 years. Valentia Observatory, which covers most of South-West Kerry, recorded 217 hours of sunshine, which was the third highest on record for there.”

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The East did not fare so well, though. Although sunshine levels in Dublin were the best in eight years, they were nowhere as good as in the West and South-West.

Monthly average air temperatures ranged from 7.4C at Markree, Co Sligo, to 10C at Valentia, Co Kerry. The month’s highest maximum of 21.3C was recorded at Newport, Co Mayo, on the 23rd. Lowest temperatures were on the 26th and 27th with both the month’s lowest air and grass minimum measured at Mullingar, Co Westmeath, on the 27th with -4C and -8.3C, respectively.

Compared to last month, May has had a dismal start and it looks like remaining unsettled. Tonight will bring clear spells with showers confined to coastal areas of the west and north,” says the Met Éireann forecast.

It will turn cold and temperatures will fall to 2C-4C, with a touch of frost in sheltered rural areas, and some mist and fog patches.

Thursday will be a mainly dry day with just a few isolated showers and a mix of cloud and sunny spells.

However, heavy rain looks set to spread northwards over the country on tomorrow night and Friday morning but southern parts should brighten up and turn a bit milder on Friday afternoon.

“This coming weekend looks to be unsettled with showers or longer spells of rain but some dry periods also,” says Met Éireann.

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