Thursday 20 September 2018

Season in the sun - hot spells make it a summer for record books

Basking: Chelsie and Dana Crowe with Lauren Mills, all from Coolock, soak up the sun on Howth Pier in late May. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Basking: Chelsie and Dana Crowe with Lauren Mills, all from Coolock, soak up the sun on Howth Pier in late May. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Conor McCrave

The summer of 2018 will go down as one of the hottest and driest summers on record as weather conditions not seen for more than two decades were recorded across the country.

June delivered temperatures higher than 30C in some places, which brought about prolonged drought conditions last experienced in 1995.

The unusually hot weather, which continued into July and forced the introduction of the hosepipe ban and other water restrictions, placed this summer alongside some of the hottest experienced in Ireland.

While the summer of 2006 also experienced extreme high temperatures, it did not experience the drought conditions seen recently.

Similar hot conditions prevailed during the same three months in 1973 and 1983, revealing a pattern of severe heatwave conditions developing once a decade.

Tom Murphy, a climatologist with Met Éireann, attributed the "exceptionally dry and widespread drought conditions" to the record-breaking temperatures.

Cool: Caram Lee and Sam Chong, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, eat ice creams in Bray in July. Photo: Tony Gavin
Cool: Caram Lee and Sam Chong, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, eat ice creams in Bray in July. Photo: Tony Gavin

"The highest temperature recorded last year was 28.5C in Phoenix Park, so there's a difference in the 32C recorded in Shannon," he said.

"The summer of 2018 was exceptionally dry with widespread drought conditions for much of June and July.

"Heatwaves prevailed at the end of June going into July, and soil moisture deficits were exceptionally high, particularly in the south-east."

We have seen record breaking temperatures occurring at Shannon Airport, while Cork Airport reported its driest spell on record since the records started in 1962.

Temperature stations across the country recorded some of the highest temperatures ever witnessed in Ireland, while all experienced higher than average readings.

The three days up to June 29 saw temperatures hit above 30C in Co Clare, Co Tipperary, Co Roscommon, Co Galway and Co Mayo.

Shannon Airport recorded its highest maximum temperature this summer at 32C, the highest ever recorded at the site since it was set up in 1941.

At the same time, records from Cork Airport also showed the driest conditions ever recorded.

But while the sunny days delighted children and families on their summer holidays, the extreme hot weather caused chaos for farmers who struggled to feed their animals and to keep them cool.

While air temperature were rising, rainfall levels fell well below averages for the time of year with some parts of the country experiencing only a third of its normal amount.

Gurteen in Co Tipperary recorded only 35pc of normal rainfall for the month of July.

In Dublin, the combined recorded rainfall for June and July was the lowest level since records began in 1850, with only 28pc of the normal levels recorded.

While June and July proved the hottest months, warm weather continued into August despite wetter than average conditions in the north, attributed for the most part to the remnants of post-cyclone Ernesto.

"Record-breaking temperatures occurred at Shannon Airport and Cork Airport reported its driest on record since the records started in 1962," Mr Murphy added.

A summary report from Met Éireann did not attribute the cause of the recent spell of warm weather to climate change but stated that it was "compatible" with the associated trends.

"Although it is not possible to attribute the individual extreme events of June and July to climate change, they are compatible with the general long-term trend," it stated.

Irish Independent

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