Recent rain was worse than 1947

By Dan Walsh

The winter woes of 1947 are part of Wexford lore and whenever there is a significant weather event it is inevitable that 1947 will be the base line for measurement, however, it is official where intensive rainfall is concerned – 24 hours on Christmas Day was the heaviest downfall in living memory and slightly greater than 1947.

This information emerged after a tsunami of facts, figures and detail were presented at a Special Meeting of Wexford County Council held with Microsoft Teams today to discuss the damage and hardship caused across the county and to take action to get roads and bridges reopened and to protect the general welfare of the county.

Reports and calls for assistance were heard from all the Cathaoirleach of the regions Cllr Cathal Byrne (Enniscorthy), Pip Breen (Gorey-Kilmuckridge), Bridín Murphy (New Ross), Jim Moore (Rosslare) and Mayor Garry Laffan (Wexford Borough), Carolyne Godkin, Director of Services for the Emergency Services, Eamonn Hore, Senior Roads Engineer and County Secretary David Minogue.

There was widespread support for all sections of Wexford County Council staff who gave up their Christmas family time to respond to what was happening. Chief Executive Officer Tom Enright also acknowledged the dedication of Council staff and the assistance of various local agencies who responded in a time of great fear and anxiety for many communities.

Mayor Laffan said many country roads were scoured and returned to a poor state. “Central Government needs to be involved,” he echoed, a call that was also brought to the table by other public representatives.

It was a very comprehensive presentation lasting more than three and a half hours – too much or to condense into a single article so I am going to break it down to about half a dozen articles outlining a mixture of hardship and damage and suggested actions for the future –from now until the weekend.

Helicopter Rescue 117 on Christmas Day duty at Bridgetown village (Pic; Wexford County Council).

We begin with dark clouds over Wexford on Christmas Day and the rain starts to fall; A Yellow level rainfall from Met Eireann warned; “persistent rain on Christmas Day will give totals of 30 to 50m. This may cause localised flooding.”

The highest national rainfall accumulations were recorded in Wexford on 25th December 2021, with lower accumulations recorded generally in the rest of the country, highest in the east.

The 24-hour total rainfall observed of 58.9 mm at Johnstown Castle, is 54% of its monthly long-term average (1981-2010). However, this is the highest 24-hour rainfall total observed at this station in any December measured.

On Christmas Day at Johnstown Castle 58.9mm fell in 24 hours, however, 55.2mm fell in 12 hours and 34.7mm fell in six hours which indicates the severity of the rainfall in a concentrated time frame. This was a climate record in the 81.1 years of the metrological station at Johnstown Castle.

A graph is available that shows the rainfall values for each day of December 2021 at Johnstown versus previous December daily rainfall totals in the climate record in 81.1 years the station is open.

Mayglass Water Tower observed similar rainfall volumes over the period 24-25th December 2021. Countywide, rainfall volumes in excess of the above have been reported. 

Significant flooding events were subsequently reported across County Wexford. Enniscorthy town as well as Bridgetown, Blackwater and Foulksmills, Duncormick villages were substantially flooded, with many other smaller areas across the county as well as single incident properties impacted due to flood water.

River and canal breaches as well as significant land run off to roads and property were reported across the county. It is estimated that approximately 100 individual properties have been damaged to some degree by flood water –with a large portion of farmland also significantly flooded.

N.B.; For anybody seeking further information detailed reports are available from Wexford County Council.

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