January 1895 was a very cold month with mean temperatures at least -2C below average for all and some as much as -3 or -4C below average. These means and deviations from average were similar to those seen in January 2010 to give some context.
New Year's Day 1895 was very cold as a bump of high pressure ridged from the southwest with the wind attempting to veer northwesterly. This resulted in snow showers being further east to over the UK but sunny and frosty conditions for Ireland.
It turned milder for a time on the 2nd/3rd as the westerly brought an airmass from the North Atlantic. The northerly returned by the afternoon of the 3rd however. There was not much rain associated with this and actually, much of January was very dry for Ireland (away from the east) with most precipitation in the form of snow.
The northerly was fairly prolonged in nature with it lasting up to the 8th, as frequent light snow showers fell to the north and parts of the east, when there was a northeasterly tilt and the ridge from the northwest collapsed over us to give severe frost. Dublin (Fitzwilliam Square) observed -8.4C early on the 9th - I must remind of the scarce station network at the time. Ballinasloe (Co. Galway) got down to -10.0C on the 10th although this was not the minimum figure in the country during January as a lower temperature would be recorded later in the month.
A very interesting pattern develops by the 11th with an anticyclone over Russia trying to send a ridge westwards towards Scandinavia and turn the winds into the east. At the same time, there is quite an active North Atlantic with a relative deep area of low pressure attacking from the west. Much of Ireland was on the cold side of the boundary and this resulted in the occurrence of blizzards widely. This was reportedly the heaviest snowfall for Edenfel (Co. Tyrone) since January 1881 at this time.
However, despite the low undercutting, the snow melted for almost all by the 13th/14th as the southeasterly wind continued to feed in milder and milder air. Saying that, at no point during January did it become properly mild - only milder relative to the cold that dominated from this month to mid-February.
It was cool and blustery up to the 21st as the depression gradually filled and cleared to the northeast before the northerlies returned. Wintry showers were light until the 25th when an exceptionally cold northeasterly took place. The North Atlantic was well and truly blocked by this point. Waringstown (Co. Down) observed -11.1C on the 27th. Did I forget to mention that there was a lot of convection associated with this? Thundersnow?
The high to our northwest weakened significantly from the 28th but a big Scandinavian High developed instead so it never turned milder to end January. This gives the game away somewhat for what February would bring! I have no reports available on this but with all this severe cold weather at the end of January 1895, the rivers and some lakes probably would have frozen over. Just think, the last proper mild weather the country has seen was mid-December and the cold was to last into February too. 1947 and 1963 get a lot of attention for prolonged cold but 1895 should be regarded similarly.
This winter was not as snowy as 1878-79 but it was more the combination of severe cold and large number of days with snow falling that resulted in it being so harsh.
Some reports from the magazine on January 1895:
O'BRIENSBRIDGE, Ross.— Sharp frost, with light S showers in the first week ; a gale from S.E. on 11th, followed by dull and cold weather up to the 19th, the cold increasing in intensity from that date to the end.
DUBLIN.— A very severe month, with much S and frost, alternating with frequent thaws. The coldest January since 1881, and as regards rainfall a record month. The precipitation was chiefly S, sleet, or H, the total being more than double the average, and 1 -39 in. in excess of the fall in January, 1877, the next wettest. The mean temp., 35°-4, is 6°'0 below the average.
WARINGSTOWN.—An unusually severe month ; roads blocked in many places on 12th and 13th.
EDENFEL.—January, 1895, has been marked by every unpleasant characteristic. Polar and easterly winds blew on 29 days, sometimes with the force of a gale, accompanied by light drifting S, with which the ground was more or less covered on every day of the month. Although it froze more or less keenly on every night but one, and the mean temp, was very low, but few days passed without a temporary thaw setting in for an hour or two. The R for the month, 2'86in., is almost all melted S, of which the heaviest fall since January, 1881, took place on the 12th.