Irish weather is easily summed
The Big Picture
is very far to the North and actually at the same latitude as
the glacial terrains of Norway. Luckily, the Gulf Stream current
carries huge amounts of warm water from the equator as it sweeps
past Ireland's western shores. The cold Arctic airs near Ireland
react with the warm, moisture laden air over the Gulf Stream
to produce the famous Irish mist. Well, mist is a euphemism.
There is plenty of mist during the year, but there are also plenty
of rains, showers, squalls, fogs, dews, and water in all its forms.
Two or three times a year the skies open and the Atlantic Ocean
tries to dump itself smack onto your head. Nonstop cloudbursts
for 10 hours.
Average annual rainfall in low-lying areas
is generally between 800 and 1200mm (31 inches to 47 inches). The area around
Dublin is the dryest on average with less than 750mm (30 inches) annually.
Parts of the west, however, get 1500mm (59 inches) and mountainous areas may
be inundated with over 2000mm (79 inches).
To give just one example, one winter
it rained daily for the entire months of February and March. One week the
deluge was so terrific that it overwhelmed all the drainage systems and flooded
the streets. Our little Lane was suddenly a cascading wall of torrential waters.
That year we could count on two hands the number of completely sunny days in
the entire year.
Just for contrast, two years later was the dryest in history - until the new Millennium, that is. Most days
were sunny, if cool. I saw more rain in the Mojave Desert than Ireland this
Since we moved here
in 1992, Ireland had three unbelievably gorgeous summer. There was 1995 - when
it rained only three times in 7 weeks. And then it only rained at night! And
in 2003 even those of us beavering away at our indoor computers easily managed
to get tans. Still, 2006 put them all to shame - warm and sunny for weeks and weeks and weeks. In fact, there was a farm crisis when nary a drop of rain fell from May through July. A few rains in August saved the farmers.
The contrasts can be
startling. While temperatures are going up every year as Global Warming takes
hold, seasonal variations can be huge. Spring in 2007 was the driest on record, summer the wettest.
Luckily, most days the weather is variable.
The skies may be leaden most of the day, but the rain will usually only come
in bursts - short and hard, or lighter but longer. The sun might appear for
an hour, then hide behind clouds during a short shower.
The tradeoff is that
the temperature is generally moderate. In January and February air temperatures
average 5 degrees Centigrade (the mid 40's Fahrenheit), well above freezing
most days. July and August don't get too hot since they average 15 degrees
Centigrade (in the low 60's Fahrenheit). May and June are usually the sunniest
months, averaging 6 hours of sunshine a day.
No one but geese moves to Ireland
for the weather, but except for the psychological problems of having to deal
with too many sunless days, it's not bad.
The Psychology of Weather
It is de rigeur among teenagers and twenty
somethings to ignore the weather totally. You can see the high school kids
on exceptionally wet days dressed just in their school uniforms, the rain
dripping off their faces and hair. Those of us who can still remember the
rallying cry "Never trust anyone over 30" are more likely to be
seen wearing caps and scarves and carrying umbrellas on such days.
Nothing speaks more highly of the natural optimism
of the Irish populace than this: on a grey winter's day, with black clouds
looming and rain threatening, the greatest percentage of people will not be
wearing raingear. Sweaters and light jackets, yes, but solid wool coats or
rain gear - no. But, as the saying goes, "A little rain never hurt anyone."
The Full Site contains recommendations for weather-ful gear. One recommendation for free: high heels in a mucky cow shed are guaranteed to mix well.