Correct choice of tyres a slippery issue for drivers
Ireland should prepare for another severely cold winter, according to scientists studying solar activity.
Last winter was the coldest in 45 years but we should expect more of the same at the back end of this year, according to the UK-based forecaster Exacta Weather
James Madden, from Exacta, said they have been correct over the last two years and this year they are predicting record-breaking snowfall and freezing temperatures again, both here and in the UK.
The grim forecast is based on lower solar activity and the dust and ash particles released by recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Chile which researchers believe also contribute to the cooling down of global temperatures.
Mr Madden said the 2011-2012 winter "will be exceptionally cold and snowy with well below average temperatures. I fully expect to see records broken with the highlands of Scotland being once again particularly hard hit".
Research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that cold winters in the UK and Ireland are more common when the sun's activity is low.
Another cold winter will once again mean dangerous road conditions, but one of the major tyre manufacturers believes that Ireland still hasn't reached the stage where drivers need dedicated sets of winter and summer tyres which is the norm for motorists in many parts of northern Europe.
Bridgestone says it is offering its dealers the chance to order the company's A001 Weather Control Tyre, which works all year round.
Colm Conyngham, of Bridgestone Ireland, told the Sunday Independent: "The best advice we can get from climatologists and other experts is that the weather for Ireland and Britain remains uncertain and we cannot predict if it will be cold enough here for long enough periods of time to warrant dedicated winter tyres.
"If you look at the countries where winter tyres are the norm, the temperature falls below 7C and stays there for months on end. Remember last Christmas Day when the temperature was -20C here in some places? Yet three days later it was +10C. Anything above 7C simply doesn't suit the softer compounds used in winter tyres," he added.
"Putting on full-scale winter tyres is an extreme enough measure. You have to take off your summer tyres, store them and put on winter tyres. It is expensive and a considerable amount of hassle.
"We think that the A001, which is an all-season tyre, suits conditions here. It can be used in the summer and all the way down to -15C. We think that in most cases it will suit the needs of motorists in this part of the world," he said.