Ireland has again been warned to brace itself for another harsh winter – with snowfalls predicted for as early as next month because of low solar activity.
Long range weather forecaster James Madden has made the prediction as the country awaits a repeat of last winter’s hardship.
Madden, a forecaster with Exacta Weather, has said heavy snowfalls will hit parts of Britain and Ireland as early as late October and early November.
His comments follow warnings from the UK-based Positive Weather Solutions that the winter months will be significantly colder than average between December and March.
The forecasters are also predicting a 36 per cent chance of a white Christmas in Ireland and the UK.
The new forecasts come on the back of the coolest summer in Ireland since 1986.
Madden believes Ireland can expect a cooler than average theme to continue into autumn with a notable increase in wind strengths.
“Although some places further South may see some spells of settled weather at times, the general theme for autumn as a whole looks largely wet and very windy with dominant grey skies,” said Madden.
“It will be generally unsettled and turn progressively colder with an early start to winter, especially more so in the regions of Scotland, Northern England, and Northern Ireland.
“As we head towards winter, I expect to see the first signs of some moderate to heavy snowfalls as early as October or November.
“In terms of the meteorological winter, I expect December, January, and February to experience below average temperatures, with the heaviest snowfalls occurring within the time frame of November to January.”
Low solar activity and Gulf Stream changes will result in the significant drop in temperatures this winter according to Madden.
He added: “The most important factor within our weather forecasting calculations is solar activity and other major natural factors that it influences. Radiant energy from the sun is the primary influence on both the earth’s ocean and atmosphere.
“Low solar activity and ocean behavior alter atmospheric circulation and block jet stream patterns that create enhanced moisture in terms of snowfall.
“The UK and Ireland is hit by prolonged periods of extreme cold and snow from the Arctic regions, as cold easterlies or north-easterlies develop. Huge swirly low pressure systems also offer the potential for widespread disruption from heavy snowfall across many parts.
“Coupled with other in depth factors such as recent volcanic activity and changes to the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic drift that we consider, this does not bode well for the severity of the UK and Northern European winter of winter 2011-12.
“Frequent and prolonged cold spells with heavy dumps of snow from blizzard like conditions is likely across many parts of the UK.
“The areas we expect to be worse hit throughout include the vast majority of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands, Northern England, and Northern Ireland.
“We have particular concerns as to the huge implications that this may pose to the infrastructure of the UK and Ireland transportation systems/economy.”