According to the calendar, it’s holy week, the lead up to the Easter festivities. However, somebody’s forgotten to inform the weather man. According to Met Éireann, average daytime temperatures for the end of March should be around 10°C. Not so for the coming week. Instead of south-westerly Atlantic winds, the prevailing wind direction for Holy Week is easterly and the source of the air mass being fed in across Ireland is Siberia. Expected daytime temperatures will at best be only 2°C to 6°C with dew-point temperatures below zero. And with blustery easterly winds, the wind-chill temperature will in fact be well below zero.
Thus, we can all look forward to a bitterly cold week. It shouldn’t be necessary to issue a weather advisory, but the reality is many people pay little or no attention to weather forecasts. If you’re planning to be out and about this week, especially at night, you’ll need to wrap up well. It’s not just the air temperature; it’s the wind chill factor, which can chill you to the bone in no time. Adopt the layered principle – two to three layers, plus a high visibility vest. And wear a woolly cap and gloves. You’ll lose an awful lot of body heat by exposing your noggin, and cold fingers can quickly lose their dexterity. Above all, be sensible and keep your core body temperature up in this type of weather. If core temperature falls by as little as half a degree the body starts decreasing blood supply to the extremities, i.e. the hands and feet. At one degree you’ll start to feel faint. Remember, if you get too warm, it’s very easy to shed a layer or two, but if you haven’t budgeted for the opposite scenario, you’ll start to slow down and the more you slow the colder you get.
High-visibility vests can also double up as very effective wind breakers. Around March/April, wind strength and direction can vary unpredictably. I always carry one of these vests either on me or folded in my hand, day and night. If I start to feel cold, I’ll put it on back to front to protect my core from the navel up to the neck. Not very pretty, but very effective! Finally, always keep a five Euro note (coins are heavy) in your pocket in case you have a mishap and need to catch a bus back to base. I recently twisted an ankle near CIT and had to limp back to the Mardyke on a bitter cold evening with no cash for the bus. Be prepared for the unexpected!