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Gales, hail, and snow – the Mullingar weather explained

Thursday, 19th December, 2013 1:32pm
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Gales, hail, and snow – the Mullingar weather explained

Winter woolies! Sheep on a hillside in Ballynacargy today, Thursday.

Gales, hail, and snow – the Mullingar weather explained

Winter woolies! Sheep on a hillside in Ballynacargy today, Thursday.

Olga Aughey

Mullingar man, Paul Downes, meteorologist and storms analyst at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, explains what’s been happening with the weather.

According to Mr Downes, who is home for Christmas, the highest gust sustained in Mullingar yesterday (Wednesday) was around 106kmh, stronger than originally forecast, and the storm was at its peak when crossing the midlands.

“We are in a very active progressive pattern at the moment, with a very strong jetstream crossing the Atlantic, that’s the atmospheric river, high up in the atmosphere which dictates our weather,” he explained.

“The result is the ability for the atmosphere to spin up strong surface low-pressure systems very fast. If these low pressure systems deepen rapidly close to Ireland, it provides the potential for strong winds or even stormy conditions,” he continued

“The strongest winds often remain above the surface but with convection, which brings heavy showers or thunderstorms. The atmosphere has a way of transporting that higher momentum to the surface.

“Meteorologists call them ‘squally’ showers. As you saw yesterday the showers produced some small hail too, so, there was instability in the atmosphere and a mechanism for the severe wind gusts at the surface.

“I believe the maximum sustained wind gust here yesterday was on the order of 66mph (106kmh). The threshold, in America at least, for severe wind gusts is 58mph (or 93kmh). So gusts over 60kmh can do damage.”

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