It's the time of year when we sing of frosty snowmen, sleigh rides and Good King Wenceslas trudging through snow that is “deep and crisp and even.” We're mentally prepared for winter and that's true in Ireland too, despite the fact that snow of any type is pretty rare.
On Sunday I arrived back in Dublin Airport from New York, where the weather was cold, but dry. As I walked through the airport I saw a headline in the Sunday Independent talking about the 'polar vortex' and how Ireland was about to experience its coldest spell in 50 years.
“Woah!” I thought to myself, “Things were bad enough in 2010" when the country essentially shut down for a month. At the time we had temperatures just below freezing and – wait for it – maybe a foot of snow, maybe a little more. That's over a period of weeks, not a few hours.
So I bought the paper and read later about how James Madden of Exactaweather.com says we are going to have 60cm of snow between Christmas and the end of January. That's about two feet of snow.
Now I know what you're thinking: two feet of snow over a whole month doesn't sound all that onerous, but believe me, if Ireland gets that much snow the country will struggle to cope.
Now the truth is I never heard of Exactaweather.com so I was a little skeptical about their apocalyptic forecast. Still, since Sunday I've been mentally preparing, gearing myself up for the extreme cold to come. Just in case – I wanted to be ready for the cold.
And what happens? Well, the weather is positively balmy. I mean, it was so warm Wednesday night that we had to open windows in order to sleep comfortably. Seriously, I think Wednesday night might well have been the warmest night I've ever experienced in December. I think it was 57F when I lay my head on the pillow.
So much for the polar vortex. I guess. Today's Irish Independent says we're still getting the cold weather. They aren't yet ready to say there's no deep freeze coming. Of course to do so might call into question the journalism involved in Sunday's article.
Yet who knows? Maybe we will still get the big chill. How would I know? I'm not a weatherman. I can't read the weather charts. I would be just as well off trying to interpret the drippings of candle wax for signs as to what the weather's going to do.
We may yet have snow and ice and bone-chilling winds. We may yet get that “Winter Wonderland,” but for now it's looking a lot more “Mele Kalikimaka” than a “Bleak Midwinter” in Ireland.