Sub-zero temperatures make 2010 a record-breaking year
Published 28/12/2010 | 05:00
This year was a record breaker for the cold.
As 2010 draws to a close, figures show that Ireland experienced new lows of temperature over the past 12 months.
But surprisingly it was also one of the driest and sunniest years in modern times.
Although there are still a number of days left, this December will go down as the coldest month since modern temperature data was first collected in Ireland 130 years ago.
Provisional figures from Met Eireann also show that 2010 was the coldest year on record in Dublin, Mullingar and Knock.
And records were set elsewhere -- in Co Mayo, a temperature of -17.2C was recorded on December 20, the coldest ever experienced in Ireland during the month of December.
John Eagleton of Met Eireann said even forecasters were surprised with the conditions.
"I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it. We've had almost 30 years of relatively mild runs up to Christmas. We saw this cold snap coming in the middle of the month but you can't tell people how cold it's going to be, they wouldn't believe you," he said.
This year was also one of the driest ever, with new minimum rainfall values being recorded at weather stations in Cork and Knock airports.
"A cold winter is a dry winter. Basically, you need heat to retain moisture as a rule of thumb, so a mild winter is a wet winter. We've had 90pc of our rainfall totals for the year, it's also been a very sunny year," Mr Eagleton explained.
The reason for the unprecedented weather has been a change in the behaviour of the jet stream, climate expert from NUI Maynooth, Professor John Sweeney said.
"The jet stream is the carrier of weather to much of Europe and across Ireland. Conventionally, it brings us mild and moist Atlantic weather -- 2010 has been characterised by a jet stream which is much more loopy and wave like and when that happens we tend to get a lot of anomalies so we've been having extremely strange conditions," he said.
"It really just depends on which side of the jet stream loop you're located at and we've been located unfortunately at a place which has enabled Arctic air to dominate this month."
Looking back at 2010, the year began with a big freeze similar to the one just ending now. The first 10 days of January were the coldest spell Ireland had experienced in almost 40 years and things scarcely improved the following month, with February also breaking records.
It might be difficult to remember now but summer 2010 was actually better than average. June and July were both sunnier and warmer than normal but August was a disappointment as temperatures failed to rise above 20C at all in the west and southwest.