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Question from someone who knows very little.

  • 04-12-2016 9:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,175 ✭✭✭ Sanjuro

    So I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to weather and climate. Winter- cold, summer- hot. That's about the extent of my knowledge. So I'm wondering, what's with the mild winter we seem to be having? We're now in December, and it just doesn't seem to be as cold as most of the winters I've known. Is this year exceptional, or is this a shift in our climate? Apologies if my question is pretty simplistic, but I'm hear to learn. Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,183 ✭✭✭ sdanseo

    If you exclude the last 2 weeks you're right, we had a great mild stretch out of summer lasting most of the autumn. Will let those more knowledgeable explain why this is likely to have happened!

    Strictly speaking though, meteorological winter only started 4 days ago and runs through December, January and February.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,796 ✭✭✭✭ hatrickpatrick

    I'll leave it to someone to provide a simplified explanation, but in essence, the phase of the Pacific surface temperature flipped during this summer from a record hot last year (El Nino) to a mild cool this year (weak La Nina). This has knock on effects on Atlantic weather, particularly at our latitude where our weather is so influenced by the strength and shape of the jet stream. El Nino was directly responsible for the horribly stormy weather conditions we experienced throughout last winter, and as far as I know La Nina is at least partly responsible for the relative tranquility of this season.

    Caveat here - I'm not well versed on the underlying mechanisms through which Pacific temperatures affect the weather here, on the opposite side of the world - I am merely repeating what more expert users on this forum have said in the past regarding that cycle's effects for Ireland's weather in a given year. Perhaps others can offer a more technically detailed explanation. I do know that El Nino tends to increase the level of upper atmosphere wind across the Atlantic, so that is perhaps a factor.