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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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Wrap Up

Temperatures will become 'unusually cold' next week - but it's still unclear whether it'll snow

The UK’s Met Office has warned of snow but an Irish expert says the risk of snow here is ‘still uncertain’.

TEMPERATURES ARE LIKELY to drop next week as a period of cold weather settles on the country – though for how long, and whether it could bring snow, remains unclear. 

Met Éireann has cautioned that sudden stratospheric warming – a weather event that can cause significant temperature drops, though not always – casts uncertainty over the overall forecast for the coming weeks.

“A sudden stratospheric warming is ongoing, which adds a high degree of uncertainty to the overall forecast,” Met Éireann has said.

The forecaster said that the overall outlook from seasonal models is that spring will be slightly above average temperatures with an average amount of rainfall.

March, however, and possibly the beginning of April are expected to be cooler and drier than average, with a “transition to warmer and wetter conditions for May”.

A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event, which occurs when temperatures rise rapidly in the stratosphere well above the earth’s surface, is capable of causing a spell of cold weather in northern Europe.

Major SSW events can increase the chances of cold weather in Ireland, though not as a guarantee. The ‘Beast from the East’ snowfall in 2018 emerged from a SSW event combined with Storm Emma, while the ‘Big Freeze’ in 2010 was also caused by sudden stratospheric warming. 

Alan O’Reilly of Carlow Weather explained that a high pressure system that brought reasonably settled weather to Ireland in recent days is expected to move upwards towards Greenland from around the weekend into early next week, with much colder air moving down over Ireland from a north-easterly direction.

“There’s still a bit of uncertainty around the details and where exactly that high pressure moves and how far the cold air comes down and exactly how cold it gets, but it does look like there’s an increased risk of a cold, northerly plunge,” O’Reilly said, speaking to The Journal.

He explained that the cold spell could last just three or four days or it could persist for longer.

“That’s the uncertain part at the moment. What’s also uncertain is just how cold it gets and is there a risk of any snow,” he said.

“Some of the weather models do show a risk of some snow showers around Tuesday next week, but really this far out, that’s very difficult to forecast.” 

The UK Met Office has warned that snow could be on the way to some areas of Britain if weather patterns follow the current forecast.

However, O’Reilly cautioned that parts of England and Scotland can sometimes experience much colder weather and snow without the same conditions being reached in Ireland at the same time.

“In these scenarios, sometimes while Britain would see a lot of snow and cold, we might end up not seeing the cold as strong or not seeing as much snow,” he said. 

He added that the weather event is “not the Beast from the East” but a “northerly plunge of air”.

“The first day of March is the first day of spring, meteorological spring, so it is going to be unusually cold and I’m sure people won’t like the extra heating bills that it’s going to generate.

“But let’s not compare it to the Beast from the East 2018. It’s not looking like that type of event at the moment.”

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