Twisters and landslides are 'normal' weather
Published 25/08/2009 | 00:00
WE'VE suffered twisters in Tipperary and landslides in Donegal but a leading weather expert said there was little evidence that Irish weather has taken a turn for the extreme.
Dr John Tyrrell, the head of Tornado Research Organisation in University College Cork, said that, contrary to the public perception, phenomena such as tornadoes are well documented in the country's meteorological history.
The expert said these events should not be read as confirmation of strange weather or signs of global warning.
We had endured three awful summers, he conceded, but "we had a series of disastrous summers in the mid-1800s, that's what gave us the famine".
A cluster of years of terrible weather was "part and parcel of the history of Irish weather", Dr Tyrrell said.
He has been carefully documenting the country's tornadoes over the past 12 years and is adamant that there is no evidence of an increased incidence.
Dr Tyrrell questioned whether it was actually a tornado that occurred near Cloughjordan in Tipperary last Saturday afternoon -- pointing out that violently rotating air needs to get to the ground to qualify as such.
Instead, the vortex could have been a funnel cloud, he said, adding that he planned to go to Tipperary to investigate the possibility more fully.
In general, Dr Tyrrell insisted that the meteorological data did not point to a deterioration of the weather but rather to a slight improvement.
But try telling that to 20 families in a remote part of the Donegal gaeltacht who were cut off by a giant mudslide on Sunday afternoon near the village of Glencolmcille.
The Mayor of Donegal, councillor Brendan Byrne, who lives close to the area, was one of the first on the scene and said that the landslide, which was caused by torrential rains, had covered a large area and in places had created "craters" of up to 7ft in depth.
"At the time of the incident there were quite a few cars on the road and it is a miracle that no tragedies occurred as the road has been totally washed away. It is also extremely fortunate that no major structural damage or personal injury has been caused."
One local resident commented: "All we keep hearing about is a railway bridge collapsing outside Dublin, which was serious, but at least those people can get somewhere. We cannot move".
Engineers are assessing the damage to establish what corrective action can be taken.