Saturday 20 January 2018

Storm Jake brings travel chaos after wettest winter ever

Italian students visiting Athlone huddle against heavy rain and strong winds. Photo: James Flynn
Italian students visiting Athlone huddle against heavy rain and strong winds. Photo: James Flynn

Ralph Riegel and Pat Flynn

Storm Jake caused travel misery for commuters as the tenth Atlantic weather front of the season brought gale force winds, snow, torrential rain showers and black ice.

As Storm Jake abated, Met Éireann confirmed that February was substantially colder than either December or January with the winter of 2015/16 going down in history as one of the wettest on record.

Met Éireann confirmed that more than half its monitoring stations recorded their wettest winter in a century - with one station reporting its highest level of rainfall since 1885.

As expected, the forecaster also confirmed that Storm Frank brought the highest sustained winds of the winter - with a 10-minute blast at Sherkin Island off west Cork measured at 102kmph.

However, the strongest brief gust of the winter was recorded during Storms Eva and Imogen at Sherkin Island and Belmullet when winds reached a near hurricane-force 135kmph.

"All seasonal rainfall totals were above their long-term average (LTA) with double or more LTA rainfall reported in parts of the south, east, south-east and midlands," a Met Éireann spokesman confirmed.

One of the wettest areas was Roche's Point, Co Cork, where 682mm of rain fell - more than twice the normal rainfall.

"Over half of stations reported their wettest winter on record with both Dublin Airport and Johnstown Castle in Wexford reporting their wettest (three months) since they opened 74 years ago with rainfall totals of 371.6mm and 514.6mm, respectively," said the spokesman.

"Malin Head reported its wettest winter on record since 1885 with a seasonal accumulation of 567.3mm with 80.6mm reported on December 5, the wettest day at the station since 1955."

But while it was extremely wet, the winter was also mild. February was the only month to report below average temperatures. The weather station in Dublin's Phoenix Park recorded a seasonal mean temperature of 6.7C, 1.5C above normal, making it its warmest winter since 1998.

Meanwhile, Storm Jake's high winds caused the evacuation of the visitor centre at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare yesterday.

A woman in her 60s was recovering in hospital in Limerick last night after she sustained a head injury at the cliffs when she was blown over by a strong gust.

Management at the attraction had issued an 'orange' warning and cautioned visitors not to venture onto the cliff walks. However, the woman was one of dozens who still braved the elements and she suffered a fall at around 11.45am.

Later, as the winds gusted to over 130kmph, management upgraded their alert to a 'red' warning and evacuated everyone from the visitors centre. However, dozens of visitors continued to defy the warnings.

Irish Independent

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