Met Éireann has not given up on warnings of snow and low temperatures over coming weeks, with the national forecaster predicting a cold snap and sub-zero temperatures likely to begin on Tuesday night.
Two weeks ago, Met Éireann said a major Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event – the circumstance which led to the “Beast from the East” storm in 2018 – “was highly likely” to develop, potentially bringing heavy snowfalls and plummeting temperatures.
An SSW is a weather phenomenon where the temperatures in the stratosphere over polar regions rise significantly in just a few days. Major SSW events increase the likelihood for colder-than-average weather over northern and northwestern Europe for several weeks to a few months after the event, but do not guarantee it.
On Tuesday, Met Éireann said the temperatures on the ground had so far been about two degrees above average for this time of year, but warned a chill was very likely, with night-time temperatures dropping to as low as minus one degree.
The national forecaster said it had not given up on its warnings of snow, given the atmospheric conditions and the time of year.
The forecast brings a particular danger for gardeners, as sub zero temperatures indicate frosts which can do severe damage to spring plants which have been encouraged by the recent warm spell.
Met Éireann meteorologist Matthew Martin said the SSW “does tend to impact on the surface with a chance of colder weather. There does tend to be a correlation”. He said the impacts “are only beginning to be felt” and there was likely to be a change now from recent higher temperatures and mostly settled weather.
“There will be more chance of frost with low temperatures of zero degrees to minus one tonight,” he said, remarking that it would not be unusual to have night-time temperatures below zero with frosts during March. Daytime temperatures were likely to fall back to about six to seven degrees from about as high as 13 degrees. “Next week will be colder,” he added.
Met Éireann’s forecast for the coming days is for rain developing in the west early this afternoon and moving eastward across the country. Highest temperatures are expected to be nine to 12 degrees, with moderate to fresh and gusty southerly winds.
Tonight is set to be breezy with outbreaks of rain or drizzle. There is potential for some wintry showers over the hills by Wednesday morning, with frost and ice possible as minimum temperatures fall to between minus one and plus three degrees.
Wednesday is expected to be cold, with hail and thunder possible with frost and possibly ice, as temperatures drop again at night. Thursday morning should be mostly dry with sunny spells but it will become cloudier through the day and a few light showers will develop. Highest temperatures will be 7 to 10 degrees with a light to moderate northwesterly wind.
Friday is expected to be mostly cloudy and dry, with just patches of light rain near northern coasts. Highest temperatures are forecast to be eight to 10 degrees with a light to moderate north-to-northwest wind. It will be dry, with clear spells set to develop overnight and temperatures dropping to zero degrees with frost likely.