Forecasters are pouring cold water on newspaper reports suggesting that Ireland faces its harshest winter in more than 50 years with heavy snow and subzero temperatures bringing the country to a standstill.
James Madden from forecasting service Exactaweather, which predicted severe cold spells during each winter since the Big Freeze of 2010-11, was quoted in numerous national newspapers today as stating that a prolonged freeze will dig in early in the New Year.
The Liverpool-based long range forecaster says a ‘colossal’ area of surface water in the mid-Atlantic that is much colder than normal will affect the Gulf Stream and expose Ireland to Siberian-like temperatures.
“Without the influence of this vital heat source we can expect a horrific winter to develop with frequent blizzards/strong winds and extremely cold conditions,” he said.
“During the winter period of 1962/63 the famous big freeze took hold of the country from around Christmas until spring of the following year because of a similar situation. We could be looking at a very similar time-frame and scale of events this time around . . . people should certainly be prepared,” Madden added.
Irish Weather Online however, has responded by saying “Based on statistics, the likelihood of Ireland seeing that amount of snow is basically zero. That is not to say that we won’t get colder spells as the season progresses as that is, statistically, likely to happen anyway.”
Wicklow Weather responded: “We cannot say for certain what winter will bring in the coming weeks and months but what is certain is these articles are designed to do nothing more than sell newspapers with the shock and awe headlines.”
“James Madden of Exacta Weather predicted “record” cold winters in 2011, 2012, 2013…. last month we were due widespread blizzards according to him. Meteorology is by no means an exact science but please take these headlines with one very large pinch of salt. If he is correct its a case of throwing darts at the dartboard….at some stage you are bound to hit the bulls-eye,” added Wicklow Weather.
In early November, James Madden forecasted “the worst winter for 100 years”. Heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures will grind the country to a standstill for up to five months”, he said at the time.
Long range charts suggest temperatures will remain at seasonal values or slightly below during the run-up to Christmas and the New Year with Atlantic westerlies keeping conditions relatively unsettled for much of the period. A brief return to cooler weather is expected later this coming week though, according to Met Éireann.
Meanwhile, Irish Weather Online’s Peter O’Donnell says: “The rather bland weather pattern will continue until after Christmas according to most guidance and the holiday weather should be reasonably good for travel, if any rain occurs it should be relatively brief in duration and light, and there could be some dry intervals with near normal temperatures. After about the 27th the weather pattern seems likely to intensify towards a more stormy episode again, which may culminate with severe storms on either side of New Years (4-8 Jan expected to be a peak for storm intensity).”