Forecasters Pour Cold Water On Big Freeze Alert


Forecasters are pouring cold water on newspaper reports suggesting that Ireland faces its harshest winter in more than 50 years with heavy snow and subzero temperatures bringing the country to a standstill.

Forecaster James Madden from forecasting service Exactaweather, which predicted severe cold spells during each winter since the Big Freeze of 2010-11, was quoted in numerous national newspapers today as stating that a prolonged freeze will dig in early in the New Year.

The Liverpool-based long range forecaster says a ‘colossal’ area of surface water in the mid-Atlantic that is much colder than normal will affect the Gulf Stream and expose Ireland to Siberian-like temperatures.

“Without the influence of this vital heat source we can expect a horrific winter to develop with frequent blizzards/strong winds and extremely cold conditions,” he said.

“During the winter period of 1962/63 the famous big freeze took hold of the country from around Christmas until spring of the following year because of a similar situation. We could be looking at a very similar time-frame and scale of events this time around . . . people should certainly be prepared,” Madden added.

Irish Weather Online however, has responded by saying “Based on statistics, the likelihood of Ireland seeing that amount of snow is basically zero. That is not to say that we won’t get colder spells as the season progresses as that is, statistically, likely to happen anyway.”

In early November, James Madden fore-casted “the worst winter for 100 years”. Heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures will grind the country to a standstill for up to five months, he said, despite long-range weather charts not signalling anything remotely as dramatic.

Meanwhile, long range charts suggest temperatures will remain at seasonal values or slightly above during the run-up to Christmas and the New Year with Atlantic westerlies keeping conditions relatively unsettled for much of the period. A brief return to cooler weather is expected later next week though, according to Met Éireann.

Ballyalla Lake near Ennis during the Big Freeze of December 2010

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