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Sunday 4 December 2016

A winter of storms is ahead - but those dreaming of a white Christmas are out of luck

Winter of discontent as flooding alert issued

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

Damage: Floods hit Limerick badly last year Picture: Arthur Carron
Damage: Floods hit Limerick badly last year Picture: Arthur Carron

Ireland will be hit by a series of Atlantic windstorms coupled with a deluge of heavy rain which is predicted to lash the country this winter.

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Long-term forecasts warn that stormy weather patterns, moving across the North Atlantic, are on course to reach our shores, and a number of other countries during the second half of October.

At least one windstorm will sweep through Ireland during this time, according to the AccuWeather forecasting service.

And if these predictions are proven correct, it could be another grim year for members of the farming community, and those living on or near some of the more high-risk flood plains.

While conditions are expected to ease in November, localised heavy rainfall is forecast during the month.

And the weather agency also predicts wet, miserable conditions will continue into the new year. From December through February there is a warning of an ongoing risk of further "windstorms".

With weather chiefs urging caution because of predicted "above normal rainfall", flooding problems are forecast to hit the country yet again.

A number of storms hit Ireland last winter including Gertrude, Henry, and Imogen.

"Above normal rainfall across the UK and Ireland will result in another winter of flooding problems,'' said AccuWeather senior meteorologist, Alan Reppert.

The American-based agency tries to predict long-term meteorological trends on a worldwide basis.

However, while the agency envisages plenty of rain and stormy weather for Ireland in the coming months, it suggests we are unlikely to have a white Christmas.

"The lack of cold air will limit snowfall throughout the season,'' it says.

This overall long range weather forecast will bring back devastating memories for a number of Irish families who were affected by serious flooding last winter.

Stormy conditions and prolonged rainfall saw homes evacuated, and hundreds of farmers also suffered fodder and livestock losses, while having to cope with flooded sheds and outhouses.

In some cases, acres of farmland was submerged for a number of months, following the relentless rainfall.

A study carried out by Dr Conor Murphy of NUI Maynooth's Department of Geography, and other experts, suggests that flooding and general climate upheaval is set to be the 'new normal' for Ireland.

Using data stretching back 150 years, the report concludes that the likelihood of seasonal weather extremes has increased significantly since records began.

The chances of a warm summer - on a par with the warmest on record - are 56 times greater than was the case a century ago.

Likewise, the chances of a winter as miserable as the worst the country has encountered so far, have doubled in the last 150 years.

Meanwhile, Oisin, Doris and Wilbert are names we will hear from our weather forecasters over the coming months.

In the second year of their "name our storms" project, Met Eireann and the Met Office have revealed those which will be used this winter.

Forecasters finalised their list from over 10,000 suggestions received from members of the public in 2015.

Sunday Independent

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