December one of coldest months on record

IT was a cold, dry and sunny winter, with December one of the coldest months on record, according to Met Éireann.

While the weather was mild last month, mean air temperatures for the season were well below normal.

The lowest temperatures over the last three months were measured between December 21 and 25 almost everywhere when minimum air temperatures fell below -15C at some stations.

During December when an Arctic air stream swept over Ireland maximum temperatures were below freezing on eight successive days in some midland areas.

There were between 52 and 67 ground frosts during the winter at most stations, almost twice the normal number for the season in places.

Overall, mean temperature values for winter were between 2.5C and 5.8C, among the lowest in recent years.

Met Éireann points out, however, no station was as cold as the previous winter, when temperatures remained below normal throughout the entire season.

Winter rainfall totals were below normal everywhere and were well below normal in the south.

While February was a wet month everywhere, totals for both December and January were well below average amounts.

Both Dublin Airport and Valentia Observatory had their driest winters since 2005/06.

Precipitation during most of December was in the form of snow, with accumulations of more than 20cm recorded at some eastern stations.

Heaviest falls of rain during the season were in the south and south-west on December 26 and 27 and coincided with the end of the exceptionally cold spell.

Most stations recorded between 32 and 44 wet days during the three-month period, well below the normal range for winter of between 35 and 55 wet days.

Sunshine totals for the season were above normal everywhere and were well above normal at some southern and western stations.

It was the sunniest winter at Belmullet, Co Mayo, since the station opened in 1956, with sunshine totals 75% above normal.

And Belmullet’s daily sunshine of just more than 9 hours on February 17 was at it highest winter value since 2004. Shannon Airport recorded the lowest seasonal total at 188 hours.

It was not a windy winter, with mean wind speeds at their lowest on record at many stations. There was a spell of windy weather during early February with gusts of more than 50 knots in most areas.

Wind speeds during December and January were exceptionally low with the highest gust, at 72 knots, measured at Belmullet on February 3.

Met Éireann also pointed out that it was the warmest February for between nine and 13 years almost everywhere, with mean air temperatures for the month about two degrees higher than normal.

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