Coldest winter in 20 years for some

Parts of Ireland endured the coldest winter for up to 20 years, Met Éireann revealed today.

Parts of Ireland endured the coldest winter for up to 20 years, Met Éireann revealed today.

Average temperatures were below normal through December and although January and February were slightly warmer overall, the first 10 days of last month brought a severe freeze with temperatures up to five degrees below normal.

Met Eireann said east winds brought exceptionally cold weather with temperatures at Valentia Observatory dropping to minus 8.8 Celsius on February 2 - the harshest chill since 1969.

Forecasters also said it was a coincidence that the coldest spells arrived at the start of each month.

The winter summary revealed that weather stations on the Atlantic coasts enjoyed slightly warmer temperatures than normal but still recorded the coldest winter for eight years. At other stations inland and nearer the Irish Sea it was the coldest for between 13 and 18 years.

Although there was less rainfall than normal, wintry conditions brought in from northern and eastern Europe carried frequent and heavy sleet and snowfalls with significant amounts covering the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.

The chill also led to severe and widespread frosts right around the country. Forecasters recorded up to 65 ground frosts over the three months compared to an average of 48.

Met Éireann's February summary revealed average air temperatures for the first 10 days of the month were around four degrees below normal, but as weather patterns changed in the second half of the month temperatures increased hugely and overall they were higher than normal everywhere. In the west they were more than a degree higher than normal.

The agency said between February 1-10, temperatures were between three and five degrees below normal but the wind-chill factor made conditions even worse.

Despite the sleet and snow, it was the driest February for between 11 and 23 years at many stations.

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