Fodder crisis on the horizon as relentless rain takes its toll
Farmers fear they are the first Irish victims of climate change as a fodder crisis looms on the horizon because of incessant rain since July and a shortage of consecutive dry days.
Recent deluges have also shown up a disparity in the weather conditions on both sides of the country, with conditions getting increasingly wetter as you move from east to west.
Desmond McHugh doubles up operating a Met Eireann climatology station near his home in Co Leitrim with running the family farm.
He monitors temperatures and rainfall every day, records the figures and then sends the data to Met Eireann headquarters every month to be analysed by experts. There are more than 400 similar stations nationwide.
Once his figures are logged they are used to improve weather forecasting and given to interested parties such as An Garda Siochana, Irish Water and local authorities, who may use the data to carry out essential public services.
Mr McHugh's figures show there have been fewer dry days this year between July and October, compared to the same period last year. It has also been the wettest July-October period, in terms of rainfall levels, since 2009. These are key months for farmers because the brighter and drier days allow them to prepare for winter. He said he fears this is an indication of the impact climate change is having on Irish weather conditions.
"From the middle of July onwards, things started to get really difficult. Then, from the middle of August, it took off and there was less drying and less evaporation. That made things very difficult."
Last year, he observed 10 dry days between July and October. However, this year he counted only seven.