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Maximum snow depth possible

  • 23-01-2023 2:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 564 ✭✭✭

    Hi guys,

    Looking at the snow depths achieved in Buffalo before Christmas what would be the chances of Ireland achieving such remarkable statistics if everything fell into place or would it be possible?

    If a severe heavy laden low pressure system worked its way up the irish sea and into Ireland and stalled for 24 hrs or more againt bitterly north to north east winds. It then drifted away to introduce streamers coming in off the irish sea. Basically a storm Emma times 5 scenario.

    Could something of that magnitude ever occur


  • Registered Users Posts: 44 LaoisWeather

    Our record at non mountain stations is 45cm recorded at Casement on New Year's Eve 1962 during an very cold winter. Not sure if this was beaten by The Beast from The East in 2018, but it was a close run thing then, especially in the southeast.

    Also, 45cm would be level snow - not blown into drifts by the wind.

    I'd say 45cm has been exceeded in the past but just not where there was an official station to measure it as our network of stations was quite poor. Computerised stations (ACS) coverage has increased a good bit in recent years, but these automatic stations don't/can't measure snow depth as far as I'm aware.

    This means that human observers are required to literally "observe" or measure snowfall when it occurs at a climate/synoptic station. With automation of these happening at a rapid pace, it seems the human observer is being gradually removed from the process and getting reliable snow depth measurements is going to be a difficult task in the future.

    No doubt the role of Social Media will fill the gap, but how reliable will that be? Will someone like xXXLaney4MarkForeverXXx from north Wexford on Facebook with a photo grab our next national snow depth record?

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,709 ✭✭✭✭nacho libre

    If Anecdotal evidence could be believed 45 cm was greatly exceeded in 1917 and 1933. The ideal scenario for me would be a potent northerly for a week with a succession of polar lows moving down giving heavy snow widely across the nation, then the Atlantic would try to take over but the system stalls for three days giving white out conditions for all three days, then a bitter North easterly would take over giving heavy snow in the east, but dry in the west - I would need a break to dig myself out from the snow. After a week the Atlantic would be beaten again but not before another snow storm. By that stage my love of snow might even be challenged. Ha!

  • Registered Users Posts: 564 ✭✭✭bazlers

    Love it... we would need everything to fall perfectly and possibly a volcanic eruption to cool things ; ) Maybe Katla might produce something special. Be alot of suffering in Iceland for me to get a bit of snow though....

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭sryanbruen

    Naas and Bunclody (Wexford) also had 45cm in 2018. Glenmacnass (Wicklow) had 69cm but that's higher ground.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,406 ✭✭✭ZX7R

    Are you thinking a single snowfall event, or build up of multiple falls

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭sryanbruen

    So because it wasn't a patch on 1982 in your backyard means it was the same for the entire country? P.s. the depth data from 1982 is very limited. The highest we have officially is 26cm at Dublin Airport.

    They do have a comparison, maybe not your backyard but nationally and statistically speaking they do. They were both snowstorms that brought deep drifting snow to the south and east of the country. Difference was in 1982 the snowstorm was succeeded by a big freeze with higher pressure, crisp sunshine and severe frosts whilst in 2018 Storm Emma undercut and successfully brought milder conditions in the days after but for many there was still snow on the ground for a while regardless.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,104 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,104 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    My old man used to say 1947 was the worst he remembered.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭sryanbruen

    Yeah and then went onto say no comparison, which there is as it's the most recent event of its kind. But anyway doesn't matter.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,104 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997


  • Registered Users Posts: 564 ✭✭✭bazlers

    It would be something else if it was a single snowfall that would be unbelieveable, but to get 5ft plus of level snow that would be roughly be 5" of rain.

    I dont think we could sustain that sort of energy to dump it all as snow as it hit colder air over Iand. I could be wrong. Maybe if it stalled for 36hrs or more and have a battleground scenario but even then i would think it would peter out quickly.

    Multiple events would be required to achieve 5ft plus of snow i would think.

    If we were to get this in late December or early January it would be something else.

    We can but dream...or move to buffalo ; )

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,104 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    1947 was unusual in that it was sustained for so long with multiple falls and low temps for a long period.

    The freeze was caused by an anti-cyclone which had its centre located over Norway and Sweden and brought temperatures of -14°C, five major blizzards and snowdrifts of 12 to 20 feet.

    "...The temperature did not rise above 5°C at the Dublin Airport weather station between 22 January and 7 March, an exceptional weather event report from Met Éireann states.

    "Different ares of the country experienced snow at various times throughout the period of severe cold", with the most notable falls occurring on 2, 8, 21 and 25 February and 4 March, the report says...."

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,464 ✭✭✭Day Lewin

    I remember fact it is unforgettable.

    At Tara St station, the railway track was completely filled in with snow from platform to platform.

    Cars were abandoned all along the Naas Rd, and then the ground froze; when they finally sent in JCBs and diggers etc to clear the snow, lots of the cars were so buried that they were stove in by the machines, who simply didn't see them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,919 ✭✭✭TheMilkyPirate

    I put a ruler in the flat snow in my front garden after storm Emma and it dissappeared a good bit I'd guess close to 40cm. I'll never see that again I don't think. Was pretty much the perfect storm here in South Wexford.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,104 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    I remember the army trucks delivering food and fuel to the shops and garages. Which we then had to queue to get. They also provided a local bus service using their trucks. With all the 4x4 and equipment these day there wouldn't be the same issues. But like you I remember the drifts being far higher than in 1982.

    Still it wouldn't be patch on something Buffalo. I think they got 51 inches of snow in one event.  

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,406 ✭✭✭ZX7R

    I find it a very interesting to be honest, 82 was definitely the largest snow fall for me.

    I decided to do a bit of investigation about snowfall here where I live now in Poland.

    This is Regional, 1979 was the largest fall of snow in a single dumping it was 92cm beating the previous record two days earlier of 70cm by the end of that cold spell accumulated depths of 2 meters and deeper were observed.

    My first winter here 2020 turned out to the coldest in 20 years snow never melted it just kept growing and growing over the winter .

    First snow fell the end of November and the Last the start of March.

    Also the first time experiencing -20

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,132 ✭✭✭Furze99

    2018 in SE was very heavy fall, deepest we've seen here. Perversely because it was so deep, the roads were actually cleared more quickly as the council was obliged to pay local agriculture contractors to do the work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,885 ✭✭✭monkeybutter

    its 63 all the way lads, 82 and the beast from the east are mere babys in comparison

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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,103 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    @sryanbruen Thanks for sharing that data. I now understand why my perception is that winters are not what they used to be - i grew up in the '77 - '87 period as a child and teenager and that looks to have been an outlier in the series. Brilliant work.

    Have a weather station?, why not join the Ireland Weather Network -

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 16,320 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gonzo

    similar situation here, grew up to 1991 as a child/teenager and back then we did not realise how lucky we were to get proper snowfalls almost every winter. 1991 marked the end with a wonderful snowstorm and freeze up during the February. Little did I know then that February 1991 was the end of it with most winters ever since completely snowless bar a couple of exceptions such as 2000, 2009,2010 and 2018. I think Dublin also had 1996 but we missed out completely in Meath probably due to the IOM Shadow.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭sryanbruen

    Yeah there was a very cold New Year 1996-97 which gave 9cm at Casement according to the data in early January 1997. Quite hit and miss though, likely the coast got little as Dublin Apt had a max depth of 2cm. No lying snow at Rosslare and 2cm at Kilkenny. The only information Met gives of it is "moderate accumulations" around the 2nd-4th and widespread snow during the first 9 days of Jan 1997. It became milder from the 10th and that was it, winter over.