Hurricane Ophelia; a detailed analysis


“How now, Ophelia? What’s the matter?”

A famous line from Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet. Interestingly, an anagram of Hamlet is “Halt ’em!”, and halt us she did, ex-hurricane Ophelia causing Ireland to close down for a day under a Red Warning issued by our meteorological service, Met Éireann. Schools, public transport and businesses closed down as people were warned to stay indoors and to not make ‘unnecessary journeys’ until the strong extratropical storm, originating south of the Azores, had passed well to the north.

The strongest hurricane ever recorded so far east in the Atlantic, Ophelia reached Category 3 (Major) hurricane strength against the odds southwest of the Azores and continued as a major hurricane as far east as 26.6 °W, further east than any other since records began in 1851. Frances in 1980 did come close (29.9 °W, some 190 nautical miles (350 km) further west), so while it’s not completely unheard of, Ophelia was still a record-breaker.

Continue reading


Signs of some Spring warmth at last

After what has proved to be a pretty cold Spring so far, with temperatures running up to 1.0 Deg.C below normal for the March-April period, there is some hope on the horizon now for some decent spring-like temperatures to affect Ireland over this coming weekend and for much of next week.


The above graph shows the daily temperature anomaly for this spring season to date, and as can been seen (and what was actually felt) there has been little in the way of any real warmth since the start of the season.


With high pressure forecast to remain over the near continent over the next few days, this will help ‘steer’ Atlantic low pressure systems more to our south, which in turn will help draw up warmer and more humid air masses up over Ireland from Spain and France.  The gif animation below shows how this process will develop over the next five or 6 days:



Image C/O Modellzentrale
Image C/O Modellzentrale


By early next week, winds, which have been blowing from a predominantly cool west or northwesterly direction for much of the spring, will back more to the south and east, helping temperatures to rise to bring us all some much needed pleasant warmth. Actual daytime temps could reach up to 20.0 degrees by day, with nighttime temps ranging between 8 and 13 degrees, which is as warm, if not warmer, than most of our days have been this spring so far!

However, there are caveats, (well, this is Ireland afterall). This warmer air mass will also be quite humid, which is likely to lead to cloud building from time to time and even some showers breaking in some spots, but this is nothing that we aren’t used to anyway and will help to spur on growth. As always, stay tuned on our facebook page for updates.


Interesting Science Of How Snow Accumulates

28 cm of lying snow in Tallaght on December 2nd, 2010. Image: Author

Snow is an extremely complicated form of precipitation, and as such leads to a very tricky time for a forecaster. A fraction of a degree either way can tip the balance between a proper snowflake and a more melted form, especially here in Ireland. There is a whole lot of physics going on there, much of which is still poorly understood, but let’s take a look at the stuff we do understand.

Continue reading

Blast From The Past: Hurricane Debbie (1961)

Hurricane Debbie over the Atlantic on September 13th, 1961. Image from Wikiwand
Hurricane Debbie over the Atlantic on September 13th, 1961. Image from Wikiwand

Of all the Irish windstorms in living memory, Debbie in September 1961 set many records that still stand to this day. With a total death-toll of 78 (18 in Ireland and 60 in a plane crash in Cape Verde), it left a path of destruction in its wake. It has been claimed that this storm was the only true hurricane to survive as far north as Ireland, but this is not the case. Hurricanes, in the true sense of the word, simply cannot hold onto their tropical characteristics throughout the long trek this far north, and Debbie was no different. It is possible for us to get regular storms with hurricane-force winds, but they are a different beast altogether. So what was Debbie then?

Continue reading

El Nino: What is it and will it influence our Summer weather?

You may have heard whisperings recently about the possible development of a climatic phenomenon known as ‘El Nino’ later this year, and its potential impacts on weather conditions on a global scale.

El Nino events typically bring an increase in rainfall over the both the North and South American continents, and a decrease in rainfall over southern and southeastern Asia, as well as the Australian continent as a whole.

But what is ‘El Nino’, and why does it have such a significant influence on global weather and climate? Moreover, what effects, in any, does it have on weather conditions here in Ireland? Continue reading

Analysis Of October 5th Storm

The front has cleared the east coast now and things have died down considerably. There are some thundery showers rolling in off the Atlantic, but as far as wind goes, that’s it for now. How do the numbers look after what was a strong wind event for the time of year? Dun Laoghaire Harbour weather station gives us a spectacular insight.

Continue reading