Wind over Ireland
The wind at a particular location can be influenced by a number of factors such as obstruction by buildings or trees, the nature of the terrain and deflection by nearby mountains or hills. For example, the rather low frequency of southerly winds at Dublin Airport is due to the sheltering effect of the mountains to the south. The prevailing wind direction is between south and west. Average annual wind speeds range from 7 m.p.h. in parts of south Leinster to over 18 m.p.h. in the extreme north. On average there are less than 2 days with gales each year at some inland places like Kilkenny but more than 50 a year at northern coastal locations such as Malin Head. Indeed the north and west coasts of Ireland are two of the windiest areas in Europe and have considerable potential for the generation of wind energy.
Since the days of Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857), who introduced the Beaufort scale of wind force, the knot (one nautical mile per hour) has been used as a unit of wind speed. Modern meteorological practice however is to use metres per second (1 metre per second = 1.94 knots = 2.24 miles per hour).
"The night of the Big Wind" on the 6th-7th January 1839 probably caused more widespread damage in Ireland than any storm in recent centuries. Winds reached hurricane force and between a fifth and a quarter of all houses in Dublin experiened some damage, ranging from broken windows to complete destruction. In more recent times, the year 1974 began with a very stormy period, with record speeds occurring at a number of locations on the night of the 11th-12th of January. Trees were blown down, many buildings were damaged and electricity supply to 150,000 homes was interrupted. It was during this storm that a gust of 124 m.p.h. was recorded at Kilkeel in County Down, making it the highest sea-level wind speed recorded in Ireland.
WIND DIRECTION (percentage frequency of wind direction)