HAS WINTER ARRIVED? Snowy scenes like this one at the Quay in Westport could be on the way later this week. Pic: Paul Mealey
THE big freeze that has covered large parts of Europe in thick snow is to reach Ireland later this week with temperatures to struggle to rise above 4°C.
Met Éireann has warned that from Wednesday, the weather is to turn ‘bitterly cold’ with the west coast expected to bear the brunt of the bad weather. The cold spell is expected to last until the weekend, with a real prospect of snow falling.
The mild temperature that the west of Ireland has been experiencing over the last number of weeks is to change on Wednesday, with strong northwesterly winds gusting down from the Arctic and temperatures dropping.
Conditions are expected to turn increasingly wintry on Wednesday night, with hail, sleet and snow possible and temperatures dipping as low as -1°C.
The worst of the cold weather is expected on Thursday morning with frequent heavy showers, especially in Connacht and Ulster. Temperatures are to struggle to exceed 4°C in the afternoon, with hail, sleet and snow possible.
The low temperatures coupled with the hail and sleet are expected to make driving conditions hazardous, especially at night, and Met Éireann is forecasting that frost and ice will be widespread.
There will be no reprieve in the weather on Friday, with temperatures forecasted to remain in single figures and further showers of rain, hail, sleet and snow. Saturday will remain cold and frosty, with showers confined to the coastal fringes. Temperatures are expected to rise on Sunday with the emergence of anticyclonic conditions drifting in from the Atlantic.
The Arctic conditions have left 20 people dead across Europe, with parts of Greece and southern Italy covered in large amounts of snow. In Poland, at least ten people have died from the cold temperatures, while in Italy seven people have reportedly died.
In northern Greece, temperatures have plummeted to -15, and even the holiday island of Crete has experienced snow showers.
Meanwhile, Knock Airport had the unenviable honour of experiencing the lowest amount of sunshine in the country in 2016. According to Met Éireann’s weather summary for 2016, the annual sunshine totals were lowest at the airport, where the annual total of 1,099.6 hours equates to a daily average of just three hours a day. The number of dull days in Ireland ranged from 78 at Dublin Airport to 123 at Knock Airport.