Drought and forest fire warning as hot and dry weather to last for days

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Ireland’s exceptionally dry spring and the current spell of balmy Mediterranean sunshine has posed a threat of forest fires and potential summer drought.

As families revelled in one of the finest June bank holiday weekends on record, the mercury soared to almost 27C – and thousands of people ignored pandemic lockdown controls to flock to coastal resorts.

For families that adhered to the 5km travel rule and stuck with back garden barbecues and picnics, there is the prospect of another four days of fine weather, though temperatures will peak today at 27C.

However, Ireland’s bid to rival Rome and Lisbon for heat will end on Wednesday with an expected 7C drop in temperatures, though there will still be spells of fine sunshine.

Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack said that Ireland was now looking for rain, given the dry spring and the current hot spell with land in many areas “quite parched”.

If the dry spell continues without significant rain, Ireland could be facing into drought conditions over the summer with likely controls on water usage nationwide.

Ireland has now seen roughly 40pc less rain than five years ago with a number of key reservoirs already at relatively low levels.

Dublin and the east coast just had its mildest winter for 160 years. It was also the warmest February on record with the highest ever winter temperature of 17.2C recorded on February 26.

Farmers have warned that the dry conditions have dramatically reduced silage yields due to lower than anticipated grass growth.

The Department of Agriculture and forestry service has already issued a Status Red forest fire warning with the combination of high temperatures and tinder-dry conditions posing a major risk of blazes.

Ireland enjoyed a mini heatwave last weekend where the country proved to be hotter than southern Italy.

Forestry officials warned that there is to be no sources of ignition near woods – either barbecues or open camp fires, even under controlled conditions.

Walkers have also been urged not to dispose of broken glass or metallic items that could also serve as an ignition source.

Concern over potential forest fires has been heightened by a forecast of blustery conditions across the south and west which could further fan any accidental fires in tinder-dry woodlands.

The warnings came as Ireland enjoyed a sultry June bank holiday weekend with another week of sunshine ahead.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News