Rain, rain, go away

It is often raining in the Horse’s Glen when the sun is shining in every other part of the country, at any time of the year, writes Donal Hickey. 

Rain, rain, go away

But, this winter, there seems to be more rain than ever in the beautiful glen, deep in Mangerton Mountain, near Killarney, Co Kerry.

Everyone is complaining about the huge amount of rain since September and I’ve been monitoring the Horse’s Glen, which is quite close, as the crow flies, and which seems to be under cloud all the time. We’re not all treated equally in Ireland by the elements. People who live in, say, West Cork or Mayo, can suffer three times more rainfall than our cousins in Dublin and the east coast.

As January comes to an end, we can only hope the long, wet winter is behind us and we can look forward to spring. Some farmer friends, who have had to put in their cattle a month earlier, in October or even September, are praying for a dry spring to ease pressure on fodder requirements.

Average, yearly rainfall records compiled by the Met Office show December and January to be our wettest months. But rainfall also varies around the country, with the influence of the Atlantic and Gulf Stream accounting for higher rainfall in the south and west.

Met Office records for last December show above average rainfall at most stations. For instance, Gurteen, Co Tipperary, had 136% of its average rainfall for the month; Dublin Airport had 86%; and Valentia Observatory, Co Kerry, 120%. The number of wet days ranged from eight, at Dublin Airport, to 28, at Valentia.

Most of the eastern half of the country has between 750 and 1,000 millimetres (mm) of rainfall in the year. Rainfall in the west, generally, averages between 1,000 and 1,250mm. In many mountainous districts of the west, rainfall exceeds 2,000mm per year.

The average number of wet days, annually, is 151 in the east and upwards of 225 in parts of the west. The wettest parts of Ireland are in the Maumturk and Partry mountains, in Mayo and Galway, which can have over 2,400mm. Dublin city is the driest, with about 800mm.

April is the driest month, generally, across the country. However, in many southern parts, June is the driest. Most of the 750 or so rainfall stations around the country read their gauges once a day.

Ominously, severe storms and floods of recent years are a harbinger of what’s to come, say climate change experts, who predict a 30% increase in extreme rainfall by 2050, but 50% less frost. Dr Peter Stott, of the UK Met Office, has described the ferocious winter storms that battered Britain and Ireland, in 2013/’14, as a “wake-up call”, regarding weather patterns of the future.

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