Dry start to year could augur well for Kilkenny

KILKENNY has had its mildest and driest start to the year in 14 years, but it is too soon to say whether or not we can expect a good summer.

KILKENNY has had its mildest and driest start to the year in 14 years, but it is too soon to say whether or not we can expect a good summer.

That’s according to local man Niall Dollard, who operates Kilkenny’s only weather station. Data recorded by Mr Dollard reveals that since the beginning of 2012, just 89mm of rain has fallen in Kilkenny to date. The normal figure for this period is 153mm.

February alone heralded just 21mm of rainfall - a mere 32% of normal rainfall for the month. The wettest day of the month was February 10, when just over 4mm of rain fell.

“It has been a very mild start to the year temperature-wise, and in terms of rainfall it has been particularly dry,” said Mr Dollard.

While this February showed temperatures two degrees above normal it is difficult to predict how the rest of the year will unfold.

“We had a wet summer after a dry February in 2009, so it’s hard to say,” said Mr Dollard.

“Odds are, it is going to be a fairly mild year. In the short term though, March looks to be turning a lot colder.”

Mr Dollard is the man behind www.kilkennyweather.com - an in-depth analysis, mapping, and prediction of weather patterns for the Kilkenny area. While it is still early in the year, he says that an unusually lenghty dry spell could affect Kilkenny’s water supply down the line.

Annual rainfall in Kilkenny has declined steeply over the last three years. In 2009, rainfall for the year peaked at 1140mm, before tumbling to 850mm in 2010, to just under 800mm last year.

However, Kilkenny County Council has played down the potential implications for the local water supply. Senior engineer for the council’s Water Services department, Billy Mernagh, said that it was too early for any concern.

“We have very few major reservoirs in Kilkenny; most of the water comes from the rivers themselves. We are no worse off than normal for this time of year,” he said.

“Groundwater doesn’t seem to be any lower than normal either. Maybe if we had a very dry summer it could be a problem, but it’s too soon to say right now.