Farmers need a month's rain to beat the drought

John Murphy with his failed barley. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Murphy with his failed barley. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Some dry, sunny weather in store
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Farmers will need up to 3.5 inches of rainfall to have any hope of salvaging crops and restoring normal dairy and beef production.

According to Met Éireann, parts of the west of Ireland are currently experiencing a deficit of 90mm (3.5 inches) of rainfall for this time of year, with other areas across Ireland down an average of 2.3 inches (60mm).

Average rainfall countrywide for the month of July is between 60-90mm. Parts of Ireland received just 8mm of rainfall daily during July 2017.

The west may experience some light showers on Tuesday night, and isolated showers are possible in the south on Friday, but it may be next week before any sign of a break in the weather is likely.

With no rain coming from above, a Co Down farming family have had to go underground to keep their animals watered
With no rain coming from above, a Co Down farming family have had to go underground to keep their animals watered

With no rainfall in sight, experts warn that the conservation of water, and future planning, is critical to avoid further water shortages similar to those being experienced at present.

"Everyone now needs to prepare for what might happen in the future with regards to droughts, even if it means building larger reservoirs or treating water from the sea or streams so it can be used in reserve," said Dr Darius Ceburnis, a senior researcher at the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, NUI Galway.

"While the forecast beyond the next two weeks is uncertain, our weather patterns are becoming more and more unpredictable. Just like the flooding, we do not know when we will get the next one, but we need to be prepared.

"We all know that water i-s precious. In Spain they built reservoirs to collect water from sloping mountains and in Malta they use desalinated sea water as tap water. Ireland will now need to come up with some new ideas to have more resources in the future."

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As it stands, Met Éireann predict drought or near-drought conditions will persist for the next week, with little or no rainfall expected.

In June, the Phoenix Park recorded its driest month in 160 years, with just 3.8mm of rain for the entire month.

At Dublin Airport, May and June were the two driest months in almost 168 years, with just 23.9mm of rainfall being recorded.

At the weather station in Oak Park in Kilkenny, there was 5.2mm of rainfall in June of this year, compared to 91mm for the same period last year.

In May of 2017, Oak Park received 81.8mm of rain, which is in stark contrast to just 24.3mm for May 2018.

On June 28, Shannon hit 32C, the hottest on record for that station, while Castlederg also hit a record 30C on June 29.

In fact, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week, with a heat wave in Canada leading to at least 33 deaths in southern Quebec.

Northern Siberia has also been affected, with temperatures soaring on July 5, to almost 33C. "It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I've ever seen for so far north," said American meteorologist Nick Humphrey.

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