Wintry island of Ireland -

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a satellite view of Ireland, which is known by the classical Latin name Hibernia.

“The name is said to have originated from Greek descriptions of the land; the Alexandrian polymath Ptolemy called the island Iouernia in his cartographic book Geographia,” explained NASA.

“The Romans likely picked up on the similarity between this Greek form of the name and the Latin word hibernus, meaning wintry. (Think ‘hibernate’ and ‘hibernacle.’) Hibernia may be interpreted as the ‘land of winter,’ or with some poetic license, ‘the island of the eternal winter.'”

Winter storm

When this image was captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite on January 19, 2023, the clouds were clearing after an Arctic air mass brought a winter storm to Ireland. Snow is visible in the higher elevations.

“In Ireland, snow falls most frequently in January and February, according to the Irish Meteorological Service, though flurries can fly from November through April,” said NASA.

“The coatings of white tend to be fleeting, and many winters go by without a major snowstorm. However, more extreme wintry weather does occasionally strike.”

For example, frigid Arctic air ushered in an early winter in 2010. And in more distant history, a huge snowfall in the year 764 reportedly stuck around for three months.

Overall, Ireland has a moderate climate thanks to the North Atlantic Drift Current which carries warm ocean waters to higher latitudes.

More about Ireland’s weather

As briefly mentioned above, Ireland, often referred to as the Emerald Isle, is renowned for its unique climate. It enjoys a temperate maritime climate, greatly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean.

This results in mild winters and cool summers, with a relatively narrow temperature range compared to other countries at similar latitudes.

Seasonal variations

Spring (February to April)

During spring, Ireland experiences gradual warming. Temperatures range from 8°C to 12°C. This period is characterized by a mix of rain and sunshine, with daylight hours noticeably increasing.

Summer (May to July)

Summer in Ireland brings the warmest weather, with average temperatures hovering around 15°C to 20°C. Rainfall is intermittent but the days are longest, offering ample opportunities to explore Ireland’s lush landscapes under generally pleasant conditions.

Autumn (August to October)

Autumn witnesses a gradual cooling. Temperatures start to decrease, ranging between 10°C and 14°C. Rainfall increases, leading to the famous greenery of the Irish countryside. Days begin to shorten, signaling the approaching winter.

Winter (November to January)

Winters are mild compared to other countries at similar latitudes. Temperatures usually stay above freezing, averaging around 4°C to 7°C. Snow is rare but rain and overcast skies are common, with shorter daylight hours.

Regional variations

The coast of Irel, particularly in the west, is milder due to the Gulf Stream’s influence. Winters are warmer and summers cooler compared to inland areas.

Inland regions in Ireland experience slightly more extremes. Temperatures can be a bit higher in summer and lower in winter, with less influence from the ocean.

Ireland is famous for its frequent rainfall, which is crucial in maintaining its iconic green landscapes. The west coast receives the most rain, while the east coast, particularly around Dublin, is drier.

In summary, the climate of Ireland, with its mild temperatures and frequent rainfall, plays a significant role in shaping the country’s natural beauty and cultural identity. It’s a key factor in why Ireland is known for its vibrant green countryside and rich agricultural heritage.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 


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