As with other aspects of Irish weather, the amount, force and frequency of winds over Ireland can vary depending on which part of the country you are located in. There may be mountainous areas which deflect or shelter certain areas of the country and other areas tend to have less wind naturally even without any natural shelter. The prevailing wind direction tends to be between the south and the west.
In Ireland, the prevailing wind speed tends to range quite a bit. For example, winds in south Leinster are often measured in the 7m.p.h. range. This is much lower than the 18m.p.h. winds that are often found in the northern part of the country.
Gales and windstorms are less frequent but are not unheard of. They tend to occur more on the coasts and in the Northern areas of the country. For example, a coastal area such as Malin Head may have more than 50 days a year of gusts. Some areas of the country along the northern and western coasts are windy enough on a continuous enough basis that wind farms located there may be able to generate substantial amounts of electricity.
Historically Significant Storms
One of the most historically significant wind storms was known as “The Night of the Big Wind”. It occurred from the 6th to the 7th of January, 1939. The winds which occurred during this time period actually reached hurricane force and this resulted in the damage of many homes in Dublin. In fact, between one fifth and one quarter of Dublin homes were damaged in some way by these winds.
The year 1974 was also a very stormy period. Between the 11th and 12th of January, damage occurred to trees and homes. Gusts of wind were recorded at 124m.p.h. at Kilkeel, County Down. This set a record for the highest sea-level wind speed in Ireland. Over 150,000 homes lost power as a result of these winds which occurred in a number of different locations.
How Winds Are Measured
Winds have been measured according to the Beaufort scale ever since it was invented in 1806. This scale measures wind force in terms of knots, which translates into one nautical mile per hour. There may also be more modern meteorological practices used which measure the wind in metres per second. 1 metre per second equals 1.94 knots which is also equal to 2.24 miles per hour.