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24-01-2020, 13:18   #1021
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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.

Last edited by sryanbruen; 24-01-2020 at 13:28.
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26-01-2020, 13:02   #1022
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Now it's time for February 1895, one of the most intensely cold months in the history of Ireland and it was to start where January left off, how very appropriate. It was dominated by an easterly to southeasterly airflow and was very dry for all, including those impacted by heavy snow showers or snowstorms. Edenfel (Tyrone) had 13.0mm all month whilst even Clifden (Galway) had only 38.4mm - contrast to nearly over 200mm more in the preceding December which was discussed in a previous post.

The Scandinavian High attempted to throw ridges westwards across northern Europe through the first few days of February, eventually becoming a Greenland High by the 5th/6th producing one of the most extreme cold patterns you can get in this part of the world which I will get onto in a moment below.

Here's an animated gif of the early days of February 1895, watch how the blocks to our north develop.

The whole of Ireland was engulfed by an extremely cold airmass on the 6th with the normal weather pattern completely reversed. Strong northern blocking stretching from the Canadian Arctic all the way to northern Russia. Easterly winds extending from central Russia to North America. North Atlantic jet stream is through the Mediterranean.

There were frequent snow showers on this easterly flow for some (whilst for others very short-lived but dumped a lot within that time and a thaw was not going to come for a good few days) but at this point, it was the low temperatures that were making the headlines. On the 6th, values included:

-15.0C at Edenfel, Tyrone
-18.3C at Waringstown, Down
-20.6C at Ballinasloe, Galway

Both the latter values are disregarded from official records however, probably due to non-standard exposure.

The easterly winds generally intensified on the 7th (resulting in snow drifts for some) limiting the temperatures to get as low as they did overnight on the 6th but there was a quiet slot early in the day that allowed the record lowest February minimum temperature in Ireland to occur with -17.8C at Mostrim (Co. Longford), this record stands to this day.

Later on the 7th, the wind veered more southeasterly with areas of low pressure forming in the cold airmass as it hits the Atlantic as well as lows trying to attack from the southwest. This provided the moisture for a snow event on the 8th and 9th with Clifden (Co. Galway) reporting a "raging blizzard" that hadn't been seen for many years in the west. Darrynane Abbey (Co. Kerry) reported a snow depth of 33 cm (13 inches).

The UK monthly weather report for February 1895 states: "The snowstorms which occurred over Ireland and the southwest of Scotland on the 6th and 7th were very heavy, the amount at Donaghadee (Co. Down) on the latter day yielding when melted as much as 1.6 inches of water in the gauge". Remember that 1 inch of rain is equivalent to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow though can depend on the temperature.

Hand drawn temperature map (Fahrenheit) by the UK Met Office for 7 February 1895 showing maximum temperatures widely in the 20s and an isotherm of 20F in the midlands which indicates daytime temperatures getting as high as -6.7C. Even Valentia Observatory in the southwest struggled around freezing during the day.

After the snowstorm finished, an absolute drought began which was chiefly in the east but vast majority had a prolonged dry spell for the rest of February right up until the 1st day of March. However, at no point did it warm up with gradual and slow thawing of the snowfalls as a result.

Further severe frost at times including -12.8C at Carlow (Browne's Hill) on the 12th. For a good few stations, the entire of February had an air AND grass frost with no day frost free. Can imagine this greatly delayed the onset of spring. Fortunately, besides a relatively cool March, Spring 1895 was much milder and included a warm May.

Reports from the magazine on February 1895:

DARRYNANE ABBEY.—The first few days were very cold with S.E. wind, which backed to S.W. on the 6th, when, about 6 p.m., S began and continued all night, covering the ground to a depth of about 13 inches. On the high grounds and in exposed places the drifts were very heavy, and all postal communication was stopped till the 10th. Wet S and sleet fell on 8th, and E on 10th, 13th and 14th. The rest of the month was very fine but rather cold.

WATERFORD, BROOK LODGE.—A very cold month ; prevailing wind easterly. The wind was S. on the 6th when heavy S fell, and the drifts after the blizzard on the 10th had not melted at the close. Thrushes were singing at the close.

O'BRIENSBRIDGE, Ross—The actual R falling was only 09 in., the balance of the total being melted snow. Since the memorable year, 1855, there has been nothing to compare with the frost and polar wind of this month, in duration and intensity. S began to fall in the afternoon of 6th and, lasting only two hours, effectually blocked the country for a week after.

DUBLIN.—The coldest February that is since 1855. The mean temp. (34°.2) was 8-6F below the average, 10.7F below that of February 1894, and 1.4F below that of January 1895. There was an overwhelming prevalence of strong E. and S.E. winds. The rainfall was scanty and consisted principally of S and H. Absolute drought held from the 7th to the 20th inclusive. Fogs on six days.

CLIFDEN, KYLEMORE.—On the 9th a snow blizzard raged all day, such as has not been known in the West for many years.

WARINGSTOWN.—Continuous frost, S covering the ground all the month. On the morning of the 7th the min. temp, was —1°, a reading only equalled once since observations began in 1860 ; though zero was touched on Jan 7th, 1894.

EDENFEL.—The month was remarkable here, as elsewhere, for its intense and protracted severity. Both in January 1867, and in January 1881, even lower temperatures were reached in the screen, but in those years there was no such persistence of low temperature even in January, nor can I find any February record at all approaching that of this year.

That's another historical winter and post concluded. Hopefully you enjoyed learning about 1878-79 and 1894-95, two of the most extreme cold and snowy winters you will find for Ireland. As for the future, I have no idea what I'll post besides current stats. If you have any ideas, let me know.
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27-01-2020, 19:59   #1023
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Incredible accounts there Syran. Thanks for the great work in putting it all together. Never heard about 1895 before but wow, imagine experiencing something like today?
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28-01-2020, 06:00   #1024
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Originally Posted by Oneiric 3 View Post
Incredible accounts there Syran. Thanks for the great work in putting it all together. Never heard about 1895 before but wow, imagine experiencing something like today?
Indeed. While reading it i wished i had access to a time machine As i don't think we'll experience a sustained cold period like that in our lifetime..
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01-02-2020, 12:37   #1025
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Haven't updated on this in a while, the final figure for January 2020 rainfall in Ireland was 92.1mm, based on an 11-station grid, which was not as dry as January 2017 or 2019 but still quite drier than average. Driest month (relative to average) since May last year. This follows on from a very slightly drier than average (basically average) December though with some station variation.

Monthly totals for every month since January 2010.

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14-02-2020, 12:15   #1026
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It's not wrong to say that our windstorms are generally weaker nowadays than those seen in the 90s/80s... here's some of the worst ones Ireland has had. Look how many red warranted gusts were recorded.. compared to the measly 1-3 we get now.

Data from Met Éireann.

EDIT: Added January 1976, two storms of January 1974 and ex-hurricane Debbie.

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14-02-2020, 15:01   #1027
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The reddest one of all was the day after I was born...

Maybe I should be Paulwindry
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20-02-2020, 14:31   #1028
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Are there any long term historical statistics for average wind speeds?

I know that our wind events might be weaker than in the past, but at the same time, as a cyclist, this has felt like one of windiest winters in a while, in terms of just average windspeeds throughout each day. It feels like months since there was a day where I wasn't struggling against head or crosswinds while commuting on my bike.
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