A year that seems to never be talked about is 2004 but 2004 like any other year did have some interesting moments and records.
2004 started off in January but January was nothing to ride home about as it was just a rather sunny, mixed January with rather mild and wet conditions in places.
February, after a wet start during the first few days, was a very settled month with plenty of sunshine. It was the "February 2008" for Ireland. If you did not get the reference there, February 2008 recorded sunshine totals of over 120 hours, even 130-140 hours in England & Wales and was easily their sunniest February on record. February 2004 was easily Ireland's sunniest February on record. February recorded an average sunshine total of 108 (3.7 hours per day on average) hours which was 165% of Ireland's average February sunshine. After an exceptionally mild start with temperatures reaching 16.7c at Ardee on the 3rd, it became much colder with severe frost being a common occurrence. February 2004 was a very good Winter month but unfortunately, it's largely forgotten.
March started off very cold, continuing on from the severe frost in February. Dublin Airport recorded a grass minimum temperature of -12.6c on the 2nd. Despite the severe frosts at the beginning, however, it was a rather mild month. It was a rather wet month but not remarkably so. Like February, it was another exceptionally sunny month though not as sunny as March 2003 in many places. Belmullet nevertheless recorded its sunniest March on record with a total of 163 hours of sunshine which is 160% of its average March sunshine.
April was very forgettable with no extremes whatsoever recorded during the month. For example, there was an absence of very high maximums and very low minimum temperatures. It was a rather dull, mild and mixed rainfall April. March 2004 recorded totals normally expected to be recorded in an April so April 2004 was duller than March in many places including Belmullet.
May had a notable dry spell during the middle of the month with little to no rainfall and some pleasantly warm temperatures along with blue skies at times. Other than that, May was nothing exciting to mention with rather sunny, warm and dry conditions.
June was a weird month as it was dull in the north but sunny in the south. I think the 14th (see picture below) perfectly captures the north-south split in terms of sunshine.
Malin Head recorded no sunshine at all on the 14th but Cork Airport recorded a stunning day with 16 hours of sunshine, a full day of blue skies.
On the 22nd/23rd June, a storm brought very heavy rain and strong winds to much of western Europe, including Ireland. Winds gusted to 65mph in Germany and 2 people were killed because of it. Many others were badly injured. A tornado struck the village of Micheln, Germany tearing roofs from several houses and injuring at least 6 people. John F Kennedy Park, Co. Wexford recorded a daily fall of 57.0mm during this period, its wettest June day on record, at least until 2012. Valentia Observatory recorded 30.8mm on the 22nd and Cork Airport recorded 44.0mm on the same day.
Dublin Airport had a mean of 12 knots during June which meant that June 2004 was its windiest June on record. Despite the storm and the heavy rain on the 26th, June 2004 was a very warm month and sunny in most places.
June was not alone in the storms of Summer 2004 as July 2004 brought another storm but more towards the English Channel and France than Ireland. This storm brought thundery rain and very strong winds. More than 100,000 homes were affected by blackouts as gales cut power supplies over a wide area of southwest England and south Wales, while some record-breaking daily rainfalls were measured on both sides of the Channel. Wittering, near Peterborough, recorded 108mm in the 24-hour period up to 1700UTC on the 8th, while in Brittany, 72mm fell in Brest on the 7th, greatly
exceeding the previous record for a daily fall in July there of 46mm. Off the Brittany coast, 88mm was measured on the same day on l'île d'Ouessant, where winds gusted to 64 knots (74mph); gusts of over 60mph were also recorded in coastal areas of southern England and Wales. As the depression drifted slowly eastwards and filled on the 9th, an unstable northwesterly airstream followed, producing heavy and sometimes violent thunderstorms; hail damage to vineyards was reported from areas of western France. Most of Ireland was unaffected by the storm, although Rosslare measured the highest gust of the month early on the 8th, 45 knots (52mph).
Other than that, July 2004 was nothing interesting as it was fairly cool, wet and sunny.
August 2004 was a very showery and thundery month but very warm and muggy at the same time, literally the dream combination for many weather enthusiasts. It was not like that all the time, however. For example, here's some beach goers enjoying themselves at Portmarnock, Co. Dublin on the 2nd.
Dublin Airport recorded 4 days during August with daily falls of 15mm or more and each of these was associated with a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms were recorded across Ireland on 14 days of the month.
On the 16th, severe flooding devastated the village of Boscastle in Cornwall, England following exceptionally heavy rain- due in part to the remnants of tropical storm Bonnie. Nearby Otterham measured 200.4mm of rain in a 24-hour period, while Lesnewth recorded 64.8mm in an hour. This flooding was almost on the anniversary of similar destruction of the Devon village of Lynmouth in August 1952. Meanwhile on the 18th, landslides trapped 57 motorists on a road in the Scottish Highlands, following days of heavy rain in the area.
Dublin Airport recorded 32.8mm on the 18th associated with thunderstorms, the most severe thunderstorms since July 1985.
All in all, August was a month of many weather events whether be it hot days, strong winds, thunderstorms, blue skies, floods etc.
September was another very warm, muggy, wet and rather sunny month again. Before 2011, this was the last September with some very warm temperatures for September (25c or more). Waterford recorded 25.6c on the 6th, the warmest September day since 1991. A few days before hand, this "red sky" took place at dawn on the 3rd. The picture was taken at Leixlip, Co. Kildare and people said it was a sign for some good weather and it sure was. The second week of September brought very warm and sunny days.
October 2004 was a very cool, wet and sunny October. Up until the last few days, October was a very forgettable month with plenty of rain and sunshine and the odd dry spell mid-month.
An exceptionally deep depression of central pressure 953hPa moved close to the south coast on the 27th, becoming almost stationary while filling slowly over subsequent days. A tidal surge, in combination with very high tides and southeasterly gales, led to considerable coastal flooding along southern and southeastern coasts. Cork was particularly badly affected and many properties close to the city centre were inundated; river levels on the Lee near Cork reached their highest values since 1962. Significant coastal erosion was caused, particularly in Counties Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. During the morning of the 27th, a tornado lifted a helicopter ten feet off the deck of the Kinsale Bravo gas platform (bottom right). Bands of frontal rainfall
associated with the depression produced over 50mm across much of Munster and south Leinster in the period 27th/28th, with over 100mm recorded in places, leading to significant flooding along the rivers Suir and Blackwater in particular.
Here's a picture of Cork City flooded on the night of the 27th:
October 2004 was Casement Aerodrome's second wettest October on record at the time with only 2002 wetter. Casement Aerodrome also recorded 44.0mm on the 20th, its wettest October day on record at that time, obviously it was smashed in 2011 by October 24th's record breaking flood. Mullingar's grass minimum temperature of -7.6°C on the 20th (right before the heavy rain pushed in) was the lowest such value for October at the station since records began there in 1950. The 19th into the 20th was one of the coldest October nights ever recorded in Ireland. Despite being so wet, it was funnily enough Mullingar's sunniest October on record.
November 2004 was an abnormally calm, settled and mild month. It was a complete turn around from October's cold, wet and sunny conditions. As a result with very dry but mild conditions, it was often dull. In fact, it was the dullest November on record in Ireland. At no station did pressure fall below 1000hPa at all during November. Mean pressure values for November were 10-12hPa above average:
November recorded only 61% of Ireland's average November rainfall. Maximum temperatures did not fall below 10c all month at Valentia Observatory bar the 19th. November recorded only 72% of Ireland's average November sunshine (using the 1971-2000 average) or 68% (using the 1981-2010 average). Snowfall was recorded from the 18th-20th at many stations. It's amazing how mild November 2004 was in Ireland but how cold it was in the UK.
December 2004 was a very typical mild, westerly dominated month but it was rather dry and sunny. There was one outstanding event of this month, however and it's the only event I think many people here remember for 2004 (if they do remember 2004 ) and that was the White Christmas of 2004. In the last 50 years, the Christmas of 2004 was the whitest Christmas with many stations in the UK and Ireland having a White Christmas. Here's a typical scene at the Wicklow Mountains on Christmas Day 2004: