Wednesday 21 February 2018

Sahara winds make for a warm oasis in city’s shopping malls

TAKING A BREAK: Bam Artist Artiste and Roisin Corrigan sit outside a cafe on Dublin’s Drury Street. Photo: Tony Gavin
TAKING A BREAK: Bam Artist Artiste and Roisin Corrigan sit outside a cafe on Dublin’s Drury Street. Photo: Tony Gavin
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Balmy winds from the Sahara warmed throngs of Christmas shoppers who took advantage of the mild weather yesterday to hit the high streets on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The warm southwesterly winds from North Africa led to highs of 14C and 15C across much of the country yesterday, with overnight temperatures on Friday an exceptional 13C or 14C.

The unusually prolonged spell of warm winds across much of northern Europe put Ireland's mean temperatures at four degrees above normal.

"That's pretty exceptional," said Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke.

The mild spell is set to continue today, although it will be cooler than the last couple of days, with highs hovering around 11C and strong and gusty southerly winds.

There will also be widespread showers - some heavy - with a risk of hail and possibly thunder as well as strong winds that will die down by nightfall.

Rain will be widespread tomorrow morning, but will clear later in the day with just a few scattered showers. However, there is a threat of heavy rain and possible localised flooding in parts of south Munster. But for now the torrential rain that has led to widespread flooding in the west and midlands is over.

While the unsettled pattern will continue this week, with periods of rain mixed with dry spells; temperatures will vary, with the temperatures cooling when it's dry and warmer when wet.

But temperatures will start to dip back down to more seasonal values of between 1C to 5C as the week progresses.

Although a white Christmas is not on the cards unless conditions change drastically over the next few days, there is a possibility of frost on Wednesday night, Mr Clarke said.

But the lack of winter-like conditions didn't deter shoppers from hitting the high streets and shopping malls yesterday.

Veteran broadcaster Pat Kenny was among the hordes of Christmas shoppers who braved the crowds on Dublin's Grafton Street yesterday.

Laden down with gifts for his wife Kathy, it was the heat more than the crowds that the Newstalk presenter found oppressive.

"It's unseasonably warm. I'm wrapped up as if for Christmas Eve and I'm roasting here," he said.

Fabio Molle, owner of the Funky Xmas Jumpers pop-up shop on South William Street, was also hoping things would cool down a bit to entice more customers to buy his novelty Christmas jumpers.

The shop was doing a brisk trade in novelty Christmas shirts and tee shirts.

Nearby, at the Powerscourt Town House, Neil McSharry, owner of Kennedy and McSharry gentlemen's outfitters, was busy selling the company's trademark hats. However, sales of high-quality gloves, scarves and other woollen goods were slow thanks to the weather, although umbrellas were selling well.

While retail sales across Ireland are up an estimated 5pc this year and on track to be the busiest year since the recession, the weather has been both a blessing and a curse for retailers, according to Retail Excellence Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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