Nostalgia: A look back at some of Cork's coldest winters

Nostalgia: A look back at some of Cork's coldest winters
Snow scene at Dillons Cross, St Luke's, December, 1962.

IT’S two years on since Cork was hit with the Siberian cold snap, known as the Beast from the East, gone but never forgotten. 

Cork was under a blanket of white and photos of empty bread aisles in shops and supermarkets were going viral. 

Towards the end of February 2018, Met Eireann forecast temperatures well below normal as the Beast from the East met Storm Emma.

On the night of Tuesday, February 27, the predicted snow and ice arrived. 

Whilst areas of Cork County including Innishannon, Kinsale, Bandon and Clonakilty were the worst affected initially, it wasn’t long before all of Cork was hit and businesses and schools were forced to grind to a halt.

Snow at the Grand Parade, on January 20, 1945. 
Snow at the Grand Parade, on January 20, 1945. 

By Thursday, March 1, temperatures plummeted even further and a reading of -7 degrees was taken at Cork Airport, the lowest recorded since 2010, according to Met Éireann’s annual report on weather trends.

Whilst this was the coldest recorded in the month of March since 1962, Cork has been no stranger to snowfall throughout the decades. 

The winter of 1947 remains the harshest ever in Ireland when from January 19 to March 15, an arctic cold snap led to five major blizzards and caused many deaths.

As the temperatures rarely rose above freezing, the snows that had fallen across the country in January remained until mid-March.

Snow scene at Bridge Street, Cork, looking towards St. Patrick's Bridge 30th December 1962.
Snow scene at Bridge Street, Cork, looking towards St. Patrick's Bridge 30th December 1962.

The winter of 1977/78, was a particularly bleak one too, with significant snowfalls in the south and southeast of the country.

In February 1978, 26cm of snow was recorded at Cork Airport, the greatest depth recorded at this station.

The 1980s likewise heralded some cold winters, most notably in 1987 when The Lough froze over in February and some brave Cork residents took the opportunity to skate over the popular southside amenity. 

Noel Tynan form Pouladuff road cycling on the Frozen Lough, in February 1987. 
Noel Tynan form Pouladuff road cycling on the Frozen Lough, in February 1987. 

While Cork largely escaped snow in February 2020, rainfall was well above average. 

In Met Eireann’s monthly climate report, the national weather forecaster suggested that it was "an exceptionally wet and windy month".

A series of Atlantic depressions, including three named storms, Ciara, Dennis and Jorge swept over Ireland and brought prolonged periods of heavy rainfall and stormy weather. 

Interestingly, temperatures were relatively mild during the month of February, with almost all Met Éireann weather stations recording above their long term averages.

January 1982 icicles at Berwick Fountain, Grand Parade. 
January 1982 icicles at Berwick Fountain, Grand Parade. 

The highest mean monthly temperature was 8 degrees at Sherkin Island - 0.5 degrees above its long term average. 

With the occurrence of three storms in February, it will come as no surprise that last month was particularly blustery. 

Of the 23 stations that record wind, 11 stations recorded their windiest February on record. 

Skating during a winter cold snap on Lavitt's Quay, Cork in December, 1937.
Skating during a winter cold snap on Lavitt's Quay, Cork in December, 1937.

Thankfully, winter is now behind us and with the advent of spring, Cork people will be crossing their fingers for a milder, drier few months ahead. 

We can certainly hope!

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