Learning to live with our October-coloured weather

The major weather event of October, 2017, was on Monday the 16th, when ex-hurricane Ophelia hit our shores. JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY caught some of the action on the Prom, Salthill, that afternoon as these brave souls made a dash for it through the flooded street by the sea.
The major weather event of October, 2017, was on Monday the 16th, when ex-hurricane Ophelia hit our shores. JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY caught some of the action on the Prom, Salthill, that afternoon as these brave souls made a dash for it through the flooded street by the sea.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

In his poem Memory of My Father, Patrick Kavanagh refers to the term of ‘October coloured weather’ and this was certainly the impression that our tenth month of 2017 left on our minds.  October will be remembered chiefly for the arrival of an ex-hurricane to our doorsteps, namely Ophelia, on the Monday of October 16, the first such occurrence since the infamous Debbie on the Saturday of September 16, 1961.

Ophelia and the less remarkable (thankfully) Storm Brian, proved to be the major weather events of a month that was, according to the latest Met Éireann report, a generally grey, dull and mild month.

As Octobers go, it wasn’t a particularly wet one either with the Met Éireann station in Athenry recording just under 108mms. (4.25 inches), well under the average for the month of 129mms. (5 inches).

Our generally soggy environment has not been brought about by any savagely wet month, but by a culmination of wettish ones from last June onwards.

The Athenry station had rainfall totals for June at 120mms. (4.7 inches); July, 137mms. (5.4 inches); August, 103mms. (4 inches); September, 118mms. (4.6 inches) and then our slightly drier than average October.

What we didn’t get through the second half of the Summer and our Autumn so far was any really good drying month that would have given our sodden soils a chance to dry up a bit and improve their capacity to soak up any additional rainfall.

We’ve certainly had many wetter Octobers over the years, and in the late Frank Gaffney’s Climate of Galway records from 1966 to 2005, there were four Octobers in that period where rainfall totals exceeded the 200mms. mark (nearly 8 inches) – 1967, 1983, 1989 and 2000.

So did Ophelia ‘outdo’ Debbie in terms of record wind speeds for Ireland? At a cursory examination, it seems not, although they did get a fair whacking down south, and especially at the Roches Point Met. Station in Cork, that recorded it’s highest ever wind speed.

Ophelia’s most powerful gust was recorded at Roches Point when the anemometer clocked in a gust of 155.6 kilometres per hour (km/h) during the height of the storm, that’s a miles per hour (mph) speed of 96.7.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.