White Christmas 'unlikely' but snow could fall up to May 2016
A mild winter on the cards for Ireland this festive season, but long-range weather projections already look bleak, wet and dreary for summer 2016, writes Claire Mc Cormack
Dreams of a white Christmas are unlikely this year but long-range Kiwi weather guru Ken Ring predicts some snow for Ireland this December.
Despite recent fears that the country is heading for the longest winter in 50 years, the New Zealander - who forecasts coming weather patterns by planetary cycles, and orbits of the moon and the sun - is confident a fairly mild winter is on the cards.
Mr Ring's Christmas forecast contradicts recent claims by retired Donegal postman, Michael Gallagher, that Ireland has little chance of snowfall this festive season.
However, he says the last "snow day" could occur as late as May 2016.
Meanwhile, the weather looks promising for next year's Easter 1916 commemorations as Mr Ring expects "the first decent spell of sunshine" during the last week of April.
"The coming winter should be fairly mild, with a storm in the first week of January and snow mostly in January and March. Winter is close to being typical for Ireland, conditions will not be too severe, but with the usual occasional rain and snow," he said, adding that the windiest spell may be in the third week of February.
According to the long-range consultant and presenter for both Australia's Channel Seven and Nine Networks, the hype about the strong El Ninos bringing harsh winters is misinformed.
The author of the Weather Almanacs for Ireland, says El Ninos must be considered along with the depth of the solar cycles they follow. As such, he estimates that this will be another weak El Nino year.
"El Ninos typically follow a solar maximum or minimum and have just come through a weak solar cycle, so the logical outcome is a weak El Nino," said Mr Ring.
Alternatively, strong El Ninos follow relatively steep solar cycles.
During the last El Nino of 2009/2010, winter across northern Europe, including Ireland, was very cold. Mr Ring says this was mainly because there was a deep, long solar minimum at the same time and that "basically, the sun was asleep".
Met Eireann figures previously revealed that December 2010 will go down as the coldest month since modern temperature data was first collected in Ireland 130 years ago.
During this period, record-breaking cold temperatures were set in Dublin, Mullingar, Knock and Mayo.
However, Mr Ring points out that similar conditions occurred during 1962 - also considered one of the coldest winters Ireland has ever had.
As for specific trends to expect as the dark evenings close in, he predicts the first chance of widespread snow will fall between November 18 and 24. "November, overall, will be drier, sunnier and warmer than average and a westerly month, with significant rain and strong winds as Atlantic depressions pile off the Atlantic," he said.
"Western areas get the brunt, but nowhere escapes above-average rain amounts," he said.
The highest rainfall is expected around November 15 and again from November 27-29. He says December will also be drier, sunnier and warmer than average.
"There may be fluctuating temperatures with rain in the first and third weeks and a temperature drop around 12-16 [degrees]. Frost is likely just before Christmas Day, then on December 26 come cold south easterly winds followed by wintry rain as temperatures barely climb above freezing," said Mr Ring. "Expect snow on or near 12 and 28 of December," he said.
As for the New Year, the first half of January is to be fairly mild with some stormy rain. On several occasions, Mr Ring predicts that temperatures will climb to nearly 15°C, bringing a warm, balmy and "spring-like" feel.
But don't expect it to last "Even though daffodils may start to flower, it is just in response to soil temperature. Chances of snow come around January 17," he said.
Unusual daytime temperatures are also forecast for February.
"After February 12, winds from the south draw warm air up to possibly 15°C. Then it goes windy between February 17-26 and snow is a possibility and the month will be mostly cloudy," he said. Mild temperatures will dominate throughout March, dipping below 2°C for just three days.
Mr Ring says conditions will be good for snow on March 3, 10 and 14. More snow is expected around mid-April, but so far, the weather is looking good for next year's highly anticipated Easter Rising 1916 centenary celebrations.
But don't get your hopes up too high. The forecaster, who accurately predicted weather patterns last year, warns that next summer will be cool, wet and unsettled overall, with some good dry intervals - but no prolonged heatwaves are on the horizon.
The Weather Almanac for Ireland for 2016 will be available next month from www.predictweather.com.