Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 3 December 2016

Farmers make the most of driest October in 50 years

Published 03/11/2016 | 08:46

Percentage rainfall values reported in parts of the West, Northwest and Midlands were a third of normal, with the lowest percentage reported at Markree, Co Sligo with 22%. Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Percentage rainfall values reported in parts of the West, Northwest and Midlands were a third of normal, with the lowest percentage reported at Markree, Co Sligo with 22%. Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie

Farmers got some much needed relief from a generally wet end to the summer last month with parts of the country experiencing there driest October in 50 years.

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The dry spell resulted in a hive of activity on Irish farms with tillage farmers in particular busy sowing there crops for next years harvest.

Helen Harris is a tillage farmer along with her husband Philip in Co Kildare and she says that after very wet September the few welcome dry weeks in the beginning of October meant they were working 'flat out'.

"Every tractor in the parish was out ploughing, sowing and drilling. We were putting in the long hours to try and get harvest finished and as much of the winter crop in as time and weather would allow," she said.

The dry spell last month is in stark contrast to scenes on many Irish farms in October causing significant disruption to the grain harvest particularly in western areas.

Extremely dry in places; high rainfall event reported in the Southwest:

IFA president Joe Healy gets a helping hand from George Anderson on his farm outside Laghey. Mr Healy visited Donegal earlier in September to discuss the weather crisis with local farmers. PHOTO: Clive Wasson
IFA president Joe Healy gets a helping hand from George Anderson on his farm outside Laghey. Mr Healy visited Donegal earlier in September to discuss the weather crisis with local farmers. PHOTO: Clive Wasson

According to Met Eireann, October’s weather over Ireland was characterized mainly by 'anticyclonic conditions' extending from Scandinavia, allowing a lot of quite settled weather.

However, the month began with an encroachment of a cold front onto western coastal areas which became stationary before retreating westwards. This gave record breaking rainfall for a time in the far southwest.

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A mainly dry east wind flow then prevailed up until midmonth. Frontal systems pushed northwards from Biscay on the 15th bringing an interlude of unsettled conditions but high pressure had returned by the 19th allowing predominantly dry weather to become established again until the end of the month.

Percentage rainfall values were nearly all well below long term averages, with most stations reporting less than half their normal rainfall for October.

Percentage values reported in parts of the West, Northwest and Midlands were a third of normal, with the lowest percentage reported at Markree, Co Sligo with 22% (monthly total of 29.1 mm).

Met Eireann says over two-thirds of stations reported their driest October conditions in a number of years, with the most notable records reported at Belmullet, Co Mayo and Shannon Airport, Co Clare where they had their driest October in 60 and 51 years, respectively, with monthly rainfall totals of 43.3 mm (33% of average) and 34.7 mm (34% of average).

Heavy rain in the Southwest

Only one station reported slightly above average rainfall for October, Valentia Observatory, Co Kerry, with 105% of LTA (monthly total of 186.4 mm).

Over threequarters of Valentia’s monthly rainfall total was attributed to a high rainfall event in the Southwest on the 3rd and 4th where the station recorded over 150 mm.

The month’s highest daily rainfall total of 105.5 mm was recorded here on the 3rd, its wettest October day in 77 years, and its wettest day (for any month) since 1980.

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