Despite the current cold spell, Ireland is no stranger to extreme cold and snow, records show

With temperatures expected to plummet below -5C, it may be cold comfort to know that the current Arctic blast is nothing compared to what Ireland has experienced in the past – not just in recent times – but in previous ones centuries.

While many of us will remember being snowed in during the so-called “beast from the east,” when Storm Emma whipped up storm-like conditions between February 28 and March 2018 and temperatures fluctuated near freezing, it wasn’t that first time Ireland has been brought to its knees by snow and cold weather.

The earliest evidence of an “extraordinary snowfall” in Ireland, which lasted a whopping three months, “is said to have occurred around AD 764,” according to Met Eireann.

“In 1433-1434 Ireland suffered another severe winter. In 1635 there was big snow. From the late 17th century weather diaries and newspapers provided information about the weather, and there are many such recorded events from the 17th and 18th centuries.

“From 1800 onwards, meteorological observations were recorded in more and more places and extreme cold snaps were documented more precisely. Daily observations began at Phoenix Park, Dublin in 1829.”

The so-called Great Frost of 1739–40, which raged here and across Europe from Christmas Day 1739 and lasted about nine weeks, was reportedly cold enough to freeze indoor liquids, decimating crops and animals, and subsequently leading to a famine that Reportedly claimed the lives of 200,000 people in western Ireland.

A Dispatch from Dublin, January 11, 1740, in the Caledonian Mercury gives the following account: All the rivers in and around Cork in Ireland are so frozen that men often walk 3 miles on the ice. There are tables and forms for selling spirits on the Liffey in Dublin. It was also supposed to drive an ox on it: and the thermometer was many degrees colder than ever.”

More recently, the so-called Big Snow Year of 1947 is described by Met Éireann as “one of the most persistent cold spells of the century, with snowfalls affecting all parts of the country from late January to mid-March.

“Although heavier single snowfalls were recorded primarily in January 1917, at no other time in recent history has there been such a period of prolonged cold.” Indeed, between January 24 and March 17, it snowed for 30 days, including the blizzard of February 25, in which snow fell for 50 hours and covered the whole country with snow that did not melt for three weeks.

Apart from other notable cold spells and snowstorms which occurred here in the winters of 1951, 1955, 1958 and 1960, bitterly cold weather set in around the Christmas season of 1962 and lasted until early March. On December 31, 45cm of snow was recorded at Casement Aerodrome in south-west Dublin “in an area where there was no significant drift”, according to Met Eireann. The weather station also recorded 27 cm of snow falling there on Christmas Day 2010.

Since then, the coldest winter in recent memory has been the so-called “Big Freeze” of 2009, which began in November and lasted into January 2010, when there were between 20 and 30 days with snow in many places and average temperatures around two degrees below average gave .

Then, in late November 2010, another prolonged period of extreme cold hit, followed by record-breaking cold weather in December 2010, leading to widespread disruption to public transport — including ice and snow-covered Luas rails forcing commuters to board the Rails to walk to city center.

Flights have also been canceled at Dublin Airport, as well as many Dublin bus routes and numerous delays on Dart and Intercity rail services.

Described by Met Éireann as “an extreme cold spell”, it was the coldest winter in Ireland since 1963, with snow, sleet and temperatures falling below -10C in some areas. Despite the current cold spell, Ireland is no stranger to extreme cold and snow, records show

Fry Electronics Team

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