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Summer gets off to a soggy start with May Day washout


IT was supposed to be the first day of summer -- but it was a total washout.

May Day came and went yesterday without a hint of sunshine or warm weather anywhere in the country.

Instead, we were subjected to more of the chilly temperatures and persistent rainfall which have stunted the growth of grass and flowers over the past few weeks.

It will come as little surprise that many parts of the country recorded their wettest April in 14 years, while average temperatures were at their lowest in up to 23 years.

Met Eireann confirmed that little respite is in store, as temperatures are expected to plunge again and more rain will fall over the bank holiday weekend.

Forecaster Harm Luijkx confirmed that milder temperatures, reaching into the mid-teens, were expected up to the weekend.

However, rainfall is expected in the south and east tomorrow, before temperatures then plunge over the weekend.

Mr Luijkx said it may be summer in terms of the traditional harvesting calender on May 1, but meteorologists consider June 1 to be the start of the summer months.

Garden designer Gary Hanaphy, from Landscape Studios Ireland, said the wet and cold weather had stunted the late spring and summer flowers at his nurseries.

"A cold wet spring will mean we will have a lot of flowers flowering late but they should last longer if the weather picks up," Mr Hanaphy said.

Farmers have also been feeling the effects of the weather as grass growth has slowed due to the drop in temperatures just at the start of the breeding season.

Advisers from Teagasc have said they are encountering grass shortages. Heavy rainfall has also played havoc with sporting events. Racecourse staff at Punchestown in Co Kildare worked through the night to clear the waterlogged track during the festival last week.

On a single day -- Wednesday, April 25 -- heavy rain in the Dublin area accounted for a quarter of the month's total rainfall.

Both Dublin Airport and Casement Aerodrome reported rainfall levels of over 20mm, their highest recorded during the month since 2002. However, Malin Head, Co Donegal, proved the exception, as it reported its driest April in five years.

Mr Luijkx explained this may be due to an easterly airflow causing a high volume of rain to fall in the east, rather that the westerly airflows which normally hit the north coast.

Irish Independent