|Ireland's changeable weather. It's felt colder since Easter |
than it did during the winter. It's been wet too,
but that's a given.
In fact, the weather seems so far beyond prediction that most Irish people are more willing to accept the word of a man who predicts the weather based on the behavior of frog spawn and nanny goats than those who use the latest scientific equipment and models. Modern science can't compete with old wives tales when it come to weather forecasts, something that can irk the professional weather man/woman.
Tuesday was a perfect example. Unfortunately I didn't have access to frog spawn man's latest thinking on what might happen, but at lunchtime I checked the Met Eireann web page before deciding that I could include a walk of just about a mile and a half after a meeting. I didn't want to use the car or take a bus. I wanted to walk.
So I checked the forecast. There was a chance of a light shower in the early afternoon, but the evening was to be dry. Seeing as I knew I wouldn't be on my way til after 4:30 I left the car behind and set off knowing I was going to have a healthy, lengthy stroll to close the day.
The meeting had just ended and I started my walk. I was half way - equidistant from start and finish and well off any bus route - when it began to absolutely pour. This was no light shower. It was a heavy rain and not the huge-drop, thunder-storm type rains, but the finer, more soaking rains that just drenches you. The proverbial drowned rat would be drier than I was when I finally finished my walk.
I know what you're thinking: 'that happens to me where I live to.' I'm sure it does, but it just seems to happen far more often here than elsewhere.
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The weather in Ireland is "changeable," which also just happens to be the forecasters' favorite word. They use it to describe days that are warm, cool, dry, wet, calm, windy and anything else you can think of. That seems to describe a large number of days in any calendar year.
Changeable. That could also be used to describe the actual seasons. 18 months ago Ireland experienced one of the coldest winters of the past hundred years. Cold, snowy, icy weather lasted for weeks. Then just around Christmas 2010 it went away. And stayed away. January, February, March right on through to December 2011 the weather was pretty much the same.
Before last winter those who like to provide seasonal forecasts were telling us we were in for another dose of freezing weather. They couldn't have been more wrong. The weather was fine. Drier and warmer than usual, which carried on through January and February. We essentially had no winter whatsoever. Non-winter then gave way to beautiful, warm weather in late March. It was like we'd suddenly found ourselves living on the Mediterranean.
All that ended in April. Don't go looking up the stats because I won't believe them anyway, but it's been colder since April 9 than any month since the snows of December 2010 melted. It's not ice cold as it was on occasion during the winter months, but it's been an almost constant damp, chilling month since Easter.* We even had a funnel cloud (water tornado) just off the coast here. The temperature wasn't even 40F at the time and the accompanying hailstones didn't melt for hours.
I hardly had the heat on during long stretches of January through March, but it's been working overtime since then.
Who knows, maybe this is evidence of climate change, but I think it's more likely that it's just another sign that Ireland's climate has always been changeable. You get your wintry days and you get your summery days, but you never really know when they might come. In between you get long stretches of changeable weather. Climate change? The Irish laugh in its face.
* The odd thing is that on this little island the weather can be so different. I don't think the weather's been anywhere near as dire away from the east coast.