Mr James Madden from Electra Weather, who has predicted another harsh winter for Ireland for 2011, has also predicted unusual wind strengths for this autumn, which he says will result in possible damaging gale force winds.
According to Electra Weather there will also be an early start to winter as the weather turns progressively colder with heavy snowfalls between November to January. They have concerns as to the huge implications this may pose to infrastructure and Ireland’s transportation systems/economy.
Communications Officer for the Dublin Met Office said that “these predictions could be right, but equally they could be wrong, its guess work.” The Met Office spokesperson added that their office in Dublin doesn’t make long range weather forecasts and never have.
According to Exacta Weather, they base their predictions on low solar activity and ocean behaviour which alter atmospheric circulation and block jet stream patterns that create enhanced moisture in terms of snowfall and extreme cold.
Ms Avine McNally from the Small Firms Association (SFA) said: “At the time of the very bad weather last year the SFA were inundated with calls from companies who reported business interruptions on a wide scale.”
Distribution companies were amongst the worst to suffer with driving conditions making deliveries impossible in some parts and extremely difficult in others. The retail sector also reported a significant downturn on sales as a result of less people coming out to shop in large towns and cities in the run up to Christmas. Many companies also reported being short staffed as employees were having difficulty getting to work.
Some companies reported a two hour travelling delay for staff. According to Ms McNally, many companies facilitated staff by allowing them to leave early or allowing them to work from home.
“While employees made great efforts in attending work there was still time lost and the overall cost in terms of days is difficult to access,” said Ms McNally who added that the SFA estimated that if half the private workforce just lost only 30 minutes on one day, this would equal 7 million euro.
Mr Alan Breen, Communications Officer with Dublin City Council, said “The City has reviewed the severe weather events of last year and has strengthened Emergency Planning in accordance with the National Framework for Emergency Management, only yesterday we engaged in a one day inter agency training event for Senior Managers in the Garda, Local Authorities and the HSE on coping with the unexpected.
“The government has clarified advice on householders and businesses clearing snow on paths before it freezes, once it turns to ice it’s impossible to shift. We strongly recommend pro-action by all at the first sign of any snow lodging on paths,” said Breen.
According to Breen, the National Road Authority (NRA) is co-ordinating the procurement of salt stocks and the salt barns are well stocked. “Our snow desk personnel have plans and resources in place. It is not possible to avoid extreme weather and a key message must be that while local authorities can and do plan to keep the main communications roads open and keep public transport and food stocks moving, a repeat of recent extreme weather requires adaptation of lifestyle to cope, coupled with people, businesses and agencies helping each other and neighbours to weather the storm.”Ms Ola Goransson from the Climate Division Government Offices in Sweden said: “Extreme weather conditions is part of Swedish life so we have adapted, for instance our buildings and houses are constructed taking the weather conditions in to account. Some of the water pipe infrastructure are laid so deep underground so as not to be affected by cold conditions in order to avoid freezing and those that are not, are well insulated. There is a complex technical background to it but that’s the simplest way of putting it. Sweden has hundreds of years of experience in dealing with freezing temperatures so this is part of the norm for us.”