40 years since the ‘big snow’ of 1982

This weekend marks 40 years since the “heavy snow” of 1982 that sowed chaos throughout the state.

Snowfall on January 8 and 9 that year recorded depths of up to 25 cm of snow along the east coast. Conditions were the most severe in Dublin, according to Met Éireann, with Phoenix Park having average temperatures below zero degrees for eight consecutive days.

The heavy snowfall was followed by a severe cold snap that left snow on the ground until January 15, causing major disruptions ranging from fuel and food shortages to school closings.

As stated in Irish weather Jan. 9, 1982: “Normal life in much of the country was completely interrupted last night following the worst winter snowstorm in many years.”

Transportation suffered greatly, as some motorists were forced to abandon their cars and walk due to snowy conditions.

Stations and airports have been forced to close, resulting in up to 400 people staying overnight at Dublin’s Heuston station due to frozen railway points.

Hotels saw an increase in activity over the weekend due to large numbers of stranded workers with no way to get home.

Meanwhile, up to 100,000 households and businesses have been affected by major power outages.

As conditions worsened, consumers worried about panic supplies and buying, leading to food shortages in many areas as delivery drivers struggled to get to their destinations to meet demand.

Reports detailed the difficulties in obtaining bread and milk in stores across the country. Emergency food drops by Air Corps helicopters have been organized to supply communities in need.

In a number of cases, helicopters have also been used to transport patients to maternity wards.

There was a heavy reliance on the Air Corps at the time, which resulted in resource pressure between food drops, rescue missions, and transporting patients to hospitals.

The “big snow” of 1982 did not come without causing casualties. In Limerick, two men were killed after their car overturned.

Another tragedy occurred in Wexford, when five people went missing following a duck hunting trip on Lake Tacumshane where their bodies were later found.

It wasn’t until January 18, 10 days after the snowfall began, that schools reopened and people were able to resume their normal daily activities.