Winter has arrived…..finally!

Sunrise January 14th East Cork, looking towards snow covered  Fota and Harpers Island

Sunrise January 14th East Cork, looking towards snow covered Fota and Harpers Island

Millstreet Jan 2015

Snow in the Mushera hills near Millstreet County Cork. Photo by Donal Cashman.

I’m currently preparing a post for later in the week but to fill in the gap I thought I’d let you know, in case you haven’t noticed or heard, that winter has arrived in Ireland.  Now before you all get uppity and say that winter started on 1st November (if you’re Irish) or 1st December (if you’re a meteorologist) let me explain.  The weather since 1st November in Ireland has generally been warmer and more settled than usual, and not particularly wet either.  We’ve had a few days of rain, to replenish our water supply (most welcome) and some days of wind (handy for drying the laundry) and many days of lovely, if cool, sunshine (great for getting my vitamin D fix!).   There has been very little frost at night, and hardly a repeat of last winter’s gales – in short we’ve been very lucky.

In fact it has been so mild that I noticed some buds on the trees!  I went for a walk on Christmas morning and discovered that a very large number of people were doing the same thing – and it felt more like a spring day rather than winter. It’s been like that since Christmas, in fact.

But in the last few days we could sense a change – it’s colder, the winds are more frequent and there’s been rain.  Today the north and west of the country woke to snow – and we had snow showers here in Midleton too.  Met Eireann has issued an orange weather alert – but this is more to do with the Irish inability to drive on iced up or snow-covered roads.  There is also a warning of high winds – this is much more serious – Carrigaline lost power yesterday due to wind damage to power lines.

The trouble with this kind of weather in Ireland is that we’re not really used to it.  We can get by for a day or two, but it can be troublesome when it lasts longer – our public services find

it difficult to respond when there’s more than a few centimetres of snow on the ground for a few days.  There’s already a report of a multivehicle collision on the main road from Cork to Limerick near Blarney.

So far the only problem in Midleton has been the loss of connection to the National Lottery – the ticket machines on Main Street were unable to print out tickets for tonight’s Euromillions draw!  Oh, and the snow that fell promptly froze, especially on cars!  Hardly a crisis, but winter is definitely here.

Mount Gabriel Jan 2015

Snow? What snow? It’s there….on the horizon. View from Mount Gabriel in West Cork at lunchtime today. Mount Gabriel is the site of some of the oldest copper mines in Ireland. It also houses the radar station that guides aircraft across the Atlantic – in both directions.

And how appropriate that the snow fell on 13th January – the feast of St Hilary of Poitiers and traditionally the coldest day of the year!  The feast was the traditional date for the resumption of law terms in the courts after the Christmas break and for the resumption of studies at university before the general adoption of the American semester system.  Hilary Term was the period between January and the Easter break.