via NASA Earth Observatory

One of the things about living in Ireland is that we rarely get that much snow. In most areas it usually arrives in the depths of winter – January or February maybe – stays for about a day and then disappears again. Apart from one day last year, my kids have never woken up to snow outside their home. It’s curious because Ireland has a very high latitude on this planet. We share the same distance from the equator as Moscow, Edmonton, Gander and other bitterly cold and ice-bound places on the planet. The reason, of course, is the North Atlantic Drift: a current of warm oceanic water originating off the coast of Florida. The warm waters off our coast and prevailing northwesterly winds normally keep temperatures well above zero for most of the year.

Not so this year. A high pressure area over the North Atlantic has served us with frosty Arctic air for the best part of two weeks now. Snow, almost unheard of in November, covered most of the island with the east of the country getting a particularly thorough battering. My mother in Kilkenny is housebound and my sister in Wales was unable to come home for a wedding this weekend because of near blizzard conditions in Waterford.

Much to the disappointment of my children, Cork was spared from the snow. Snow was threatened yesterday morning but instead we got drenched by icy rain. It froze instantly to the roads, briefly turning the whole city into a massive skating rink.

NASA’s Aqua satellite took this wonderful photo of Ireland on Thursday. You can clearly see the snow clouds pasting the east coast of Ireland before venturing out into the Celtic Sea. The mid-West of Ireland, from Clare to Cork, remained relatively unscathed, while seven-foot deep snow was reported in the Wicklow mountains.

A winter to remember, for sure.

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