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White snow scene at Patrick's Hill, Cork on Friday 2nd March 2018. Pic; Larry Cummins
White snow scene at Patrick's Hill, Cork on Friday 2nd March 2018. Pic; Larry Cummins
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Sun shines, but a year ago it was a different story in Cork

AS Cork basks in long spells of sunshine and enjoys temperatures reaching well into double figures, it is hard to believe that we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the Beast From The East and Storm Emma.

Snow Day! Senan & Fionn O'Toole in the snow in Whitegate
Snow Day! Senan & Fionn O'Toole in the snow in Whitegate
While February 2019 has brought us unseasonably warm weather, last year the same month ended with closed schools, traffic chaos and ‘snow days’ for much of the country.

As the Beast from the East met Storm Emma, Met Éireann told us to us to expect air and ground temperatures five to 10 degrees below normal, the kind of conditions normally seen in the Arctic Circle.

Overnight on Tuesday, February 27, the predicted snow and ice arrived. Carrigaline, Innishannon, Kinsale, Bandon and Clonakilty were among the worst hit in the early stages and it was just a taste of things to come, as conditions deteriorated until travel became impossible across much of the country by Thursday. Gritters were out in force salting the road networks, but for much of Cork it became a case of staying wherever you were.

Panic buying as shelves empty in supermakets around the country ahead of the Beast from the East arrival.
Panic buying as shelves empty in supermakets around the country ahead of the Beast from the East arrival.
 White snow scene at Patrick's Hill, Cork on Friday 2nd March 2018. Pic: Larry Cummins
 White snow scene at Patrick's Hill, Cork on Friday 2nd March 2018.
Pic: Larry Cummins
People were urged to check on neighbours and bread became the hottest commodity in the shops, as we all hunkered down to wait out the weather.

It soon became clear that we were going to be waiting for days rather than hours.

Cork Airport on March 2
Cork Airport on March 2
On Thursday, March 1, the coldest temperature recorded in Ireland in 2018 was registered in Cork. A reading of -7c was taken at Cork Airport, the lowest recorded since 2010, according to Met Éireann’s annual report on weather trends.

An aerial panoramic view of Kinsale Harbour as Storm Emma hit the south coast. Picture. John Allen
An aerial panoramic view of Kinsale Harbour as Storm Emma hit the south coast. Picture. John Allen
Also on Thursday, it was announced that the Evening Echo, along with our sister paper the Irish Examiner, would not be published on Friday, March 2. Reporting staff continued to work and our websites were regularly updated but there was no physical paper in Cork shops or on the streets for the first time in many decades. Normal service was resumed on Saturday.

Much of the county enjoyed the unexpected holiday, with sledding becoming the temporary national sport and social media accounts competing for the best snowmen, snow fights and snow houses.

But there were also serious consequences. The life of Mayfield college student Jack O’Driscoll was forever changed when he suffered a serious neck injury as a result of a freak weather-related accident.

Jack O'Driscoll was out walking in Lotabeg in Mayfield on the northside of Cork city when an awkward fall resulted in his paralysis.
Jack O'Driscoll was out walking in Lotabeg in Mayfield on the northside of Cork city when an awkward fall resulted in his paralysis.
Jack, now 20, spent nine months in Dublin recovering in the National Rehabilitation Centre and made it home to Cork in time for Christmas. The community has rallied around the young man, raising hundreds of thousands for his treatment and care, and he plans to return to his education and participate in paralympic sport in the future.

Irish retailers were badly impacted by the storm, estimating that tens of millions of euros were lost as the snow and winds kept customers away from the shops. Some in the retail sector suffered 30% losses, according to a report from Retail Ireland.

There was also looting at a Lidl in Dublin, with the Jobstown outlet remaining closed for several months after being badly damaged.

In Cork, staff at Fota Wildlife Park worked around the clock to ensure all animals were safe and had enough food to sustain them.

“Most of the free-range animals have huts around the place for the winter,” a spokesperson said. “We took precautions with the lions and tigers who were kept indoors.”

Staff were at the park throughout the storm and most of the animals received enough feed for 36 hours during the worst of the weather.

By the weekend, the worst of the weather has passed, although the significant accumulation of snow meant it was days and in some places weeks before life returned to normal.