Offaly forecaster warns 'heavy snow and disruption' possible in coming weeks
Offaly meteorologist Cathal Nolan has said there is "a risk of some heavy snow and disruption" in late January and through February owing to a phenomenon known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming.
"There has been much speculation over the past couple of weeks talking about an imminent return to Siberian-like conditions in the same vein as those experienced during the infamous Storm Emma last winter," Cathal said.
Speaking about the likelihood of such a return, Cathal said, "our weather is likely to become much colder during the second half of January and into February."
"The main culprit behind this transition is the development of a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event which has occurred over the past ten days or so, fuelling the speculation about such a prolonged cold snap."
"Sudden Stratospheric Warming events essentially change the flow of winds in the highest levels of the atmosphere before gradually this change from westerly to easterly winds becomes established through all levels of the atmosphere, resulting in very cold air from an already frigid continent and Siberia being drawn westwards across Ireland," the Midland Weather Channel forecaster explained.
In the short-term, Cathal says, "it looks as though our winds will remain predominantly from a northwesterly direction over the coming week, resulting in lower temperatures and nighttime frosts, though snow won’t be an issue."
"It’s not until later in the month and through February that the risk of a more prolonged and severe cold spell becomes established, leading to a risk of some heavy snow and disruption," he said.
"Given that this particular scenario is still some weeks away it’s almost impossible to quantify how severe such an event would be, however during similar events it’s the east and Midlands which typically bear the brunt of the snowfall and freezing temperatures, with perhaps the best example of such an event occurring was the winter of 2010," he suggested.
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