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knocker

The Emerald Isle turns white: Snow and very low surface temperatures over Ireland during Christmas 2000

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Popular mythology labels Ireland as having a mild and damp climate, with few extremes of temperature throughout the year. For the most part, this classification is justified, especially in the western half of the country where the winter climate is characterised by strong advection of heat energy from the Atlantic (Sweeney 1987/88). Occasionally, however, there are exceptions to this rule, such as in late December 2000 when a series of polar lows and troughs, embedded in a bitterly cold Arctic airstream, brought snow to much of the country. On 27 December 2000, Aldergrove Airport in Northern Ireland recorded its heaviest daily snowfall (19 cm) since records began there in 1930 (Met Office Press Release on http://www.met office.com/corporate/pressoffice/). Furthermore, weak baroclinic gradients following the polar troughs allowed intense radiational cooling to take place. The result was some of the lowest temperatures on record in Ireland for the month of December, with –14.0 °C being recorded at Straide, Co. Mayo, early on the 29th. At the end of a century which has seen an unprecedented rise in global temperatures (Folland et al. 2002), and even more worrying predictions for the coming one (Collins and Senior 2002), it was perhaps fitting that the last week of the climatic millennium should turn the tables somewhat!

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1256/wea.59.03/epdf

Edited by knocker
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Christmas 2000 often a forgotton period of weather (probably because it didn't deliver much in the way of snow or notable cold in the SE quarter of the UK), but yes for the NW quarter of the country (most of Scotland away from the east, NW Eng, N Wales, N Ireland) and Ireland it was a notably cold and very snowy end to December. It came as a very pleasant surprise, a rude awakening so to speak after 3 preety snowless and consistently mild winters.

 

Here we had a heavy fall of snow overnight 27th/28th which gave about 5 inches, the next 3 nights were very cold mins around -10 degrees, and 3 ice days, again something of a rarity at the time, the last ones were in early Jan 1997.

 

The cold and snow came courtesy of a very unstable arctic maritime airmass which was pulled SW towards Scotland hence we saw troughs and lows anchor themselves in from the NW as opposed to the usual N/NE which usually means N/E Scotland and NE Eng gets the worse. The synoptics were similar to Dec 2009 in many respects, but unlike then heights to the NW were less robust and the cold spell came to an abrupt end in time for New Years Eve, much of early and mid Jan being wet and mild and quite dull.

 

I'd rate the cold snowy spell of late Dec 2000 up there with the best cold snowy spells of the last 25 years or so. Not as intense in terms of cold as Dec 1995, or as snowy as Dec 2009 or indeed as cold in terms of duration as Jan 2010 and much more so Dec 2010 but certainly very decent.

Edited by damianslaw
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One of my fav xmas periods. Ok didnt have a white xmas or even new year but with the cold (and some snowcover in between the two) it felt very festive here imo.

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Yes this was a short lived but for me quite a memorable event here in the West Midlands. There was quite a bit of snow (not sure about depths but it was decent) on the evening of the 27th as I remember we were having a late Christmas party round our house that evening. It then stuck about until the 30th or 31st with proper ice days with the canals round here froze solid enough to walk on.

We had a similar event a year later in 2001 this time with the snow falling on the 29th which stuck around until a day or two after the New Year with ice days and the local canal freezing solid again ( in fact it was cold before then and we technically had a white Christmas with a brief shower which caused a slight peppering which stuck around until the main event). They both felt very festive as at that time of year people still have their Christmas decorations up so they felt like a nice late Christmas treat.

In fact at the time because I had grown up during the 90s these events seemed pretty good by the standards of the time as I only very vaguely remember the winter of 1990-91 and these events seemed much colder and longer lasting than anything 1995-96 (though I do remember during this winter there were lots of frosts with the washing on the line freezing solid like cardboard and I had chickens at the time and I looked after the chickens at school (yes we had chickens at school as well as ducks and goats) with their water bowls freezing solid and having to bang them on the ground to get the solid blocks of ice out) and 1996-97 delivered round these parts which were both ok. And although I had an idea that the winters of the 1980s and earlier were more severe I didn't really have much knowledge about such and it was defiantly the short lived cold spells of late December 2000 and late December 2001-early January 2002 that made me realise just how cold it could get round here and really sparked my love for snow (even though I liked it before then and always wished for a white Christmas but I wasn't as bothered whether it happened or not in January and February unlike now).

I remember at the time thinking it was the start of a new trend and expected the same to happen in December 2002 only to be disappointed. I don't think we got so much snow again until late January or early February 2007 (though the late January or early February 2004 event was ok if modest in terms of snow depths) then we got quite spoiled with the real long lasting spells of winter 2009-10 November-December 2010 and January and March 2013. They showed me what real winters are and now my perspective of late December 2000 and late December 2001-early January 2002 isn't as great as it was at the time. But we get what we get and I suppose they still both beat winters 2013-14 and 2014-15 at least.

Edited by WALSALL SNOW

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It didn't give much snow (2-3cm) but it was still the first time since Jan 1997 we had snow on the ground for a full day. It got down to -10 one night but it didn't last- I remember more snow being forecast for New Years Eve but it just rained everywhere.

Dec 2001-early Jan 2002 was actually better; similar snow and temperature but it lasted longer. It was frosty over Christmas then the snow arrived on the 30th and lay till Jan 5th; that was the longest snow cover between 1997 and 2009 here. It gets remembered as a rubbish winter but the first half was fine, it was just awful from mid January on.

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