by Francis Farragher, Connacht Tribune
IT does only seem like yesterday when we were dusting ourselves down after the Christmas season and then preparing for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but almost in a flash, we’re within a stone’s throw of Mid-Summer’s Day. Now, the ‘Mayos’ are coming to town on Sunday with all their colour, bluster and football passion, the city will be a hectic place this weekend and already there’s a holiday feel to the place with talk of the Arts Festival and the Galway Races.
Weather wise, it’s been a pleasant enough journey since last October as overall, we enjoyed quite a mild and dryish eight months of weather, with thankfully no flooding stories to report on. However, given the inevitable cycle of weather patterns, that will all change too, but up until this week at least, a chance to enjoy our good times.
We really did get some pounding at the end of 2015 when the November and December of that year brought us well over 500mms, or 20 inches of rainfall, as recorded at the Met Éireann station in Athenry.
Some people maintain that we get the same amount of rainfall every year but that’s not the case. While our average annual rainfall here in Galway might come in around the 1,200mms, mark (c.47 inches), in 2015 the total for the year was 1,575mms. (Athenry) or 62 inches while in 2016 that figure was down to 107mms, or just over 42 inches.
That dry trend has continued through 2017 for all months, with the exception of a wet March, and so far, through the first five months of the year, the rainfall total in Athenry (Met Éireann) has been under 400mms or 14 inches. If this trend continues, we will be in line for one of our driest ever years, but that is really tempting fate, and if we get washed out over the coming Summer, I won’t be thanked for such a prediction.
As well as being local, weather does tend to be about the present tense, and if for example, we do go on to have a wash-out of a Summer, then very few people will tend to remember the dry Winter and Spring we had before that.
The longevity of our dry spell has of course brought its own problems with reservoir levels very low in many parts of the country; while in places like the Aran Islands, there are currently severe water shortages. Much and all as we complain about the rain, without it, we are in very serious trouble, and if it stayed dry for too long, our green little isle would be green no more.
One of the curious little things of the past month or so has been the miniscule impact that our rainfall amounts of the past month have had on our rivers and streams. The River Clare at Claregalway Bridge (see picture) is still crossable on foot and even our wet weekend in May, from the 12th to the 14th, make no impact at all on river water levels.
The simple reason for this of course is that with the land and soils being so dry, they absorbed 100% of the precipitation that fell, so the problem with low reservoir levels is likely to persist for some time ahead.
That wet May weekend near the middle of the month, did however provide some badly needed moisture fo the grass crop, that recovered significantly over recent weeks, after being parched for the previous month.
Abbeyknockmoy weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, collected just 2.81 inches (71.4mm) of rainfall in his goblet over May’s 31 days and this of course followed on from one of our driest every Aprils where rainfall across the region could be measured in just a fraction of an inch.
According to Brendan’s records, there were just eight wet days through the month of May, with the bulk of the rainfall (1.73 inches) falling on that weekend of the 12th to the 14th. The only other significant rainfall was on the Friday night/Saturday morning of May 26/27 that delivered half an inch of precipitation.
Those wet little interludes thought were very welcome for farmers and gardeners, as Brendan points out, “I suppose everyone would have noticed after our exceptionally dry April, that through the first week of May, the ground had areal dry look about it, and growth was really starting to be impacted upon. But that wettish weekend we had towards the middle of the month was very important for the grass crop and growth in general.”
According to the Met Éireann May weather report, the West of Ireland was the place to be during our fifth month whether it be ‘balmy’ Belmullet or ‘roadting’ Roscommon. The warmest air temperature of the month was recorded at Mount Dillon, Roscommon, on Friday, May 26, when the mercury reached a very impressive 26.1 Celsius while the highest mean temperature (13.5) for the month was at Newport in Co. Mayo. It was also a sunny month with very few dull days while wind speeds were also quite modest during a May month, that overall, was quite kind to us.
It might be back to the rains this week but river levels remain stubbornly low as can be observed from this picture of the Clare River near Claregalway Castle, taken last weekend by JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.