Weather chaos: 40 years since the 'big snow' of 1982

Weather chaos: 40 years since the 'big snow' of 1982

This weekend marks 40 years since the 'big snow' of 1982 which caused chaos across the State.

Snowfall on January 8-9th that year recorded depths of up to 25 cm of snow along the east coast. According to Met Éireann, conditions were most severe in Dublin with the Phoenix Park having mean temperatures of less than zero degrees for eight consecutive days.

The heavy snow fall was followed by a severe cold spell which left snow on the ground until the 15th of January, leading to major disruption from fuel and food shortages to the closure of schools.


As reported in The Irish Times on January 9th 1982: “Normal life throughout much of the country was brought to a complete standstill last night as a result of the worst winter snowstorm for many years”.

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

Train stations and airports were forced to close, resulting in up to 400 people staying overnight at Dublin's Heuston Station due to frozen railway points.


Hotels experienced an increase in business that weekend because of the significant number of stranded workers having no way home.

Meanwhile, up to 100,000 households and businesses were impacted by major power cuts.

As conditions worsened, consumers became anxious about supplies and panic bought, leading to food shortages in many areas with delivery drivers struggling to make their destinations to meet demand.

Reports detailed difficulties getting the likes of bread and milk in shops around the country. Emergency food drops by Air Corps helicopters were organised to get supplies to communities experiencing shortages.

In a number of cases, helicopters were also used to transport patients to maternity hospitals.

There was a major reliance on the Air Corps at the time, resulting in resources being under pressure between carrying out food drops, rescue missions and transporting patients to hospitals.

The 'big snow' of 1982 did not come without 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 recovered.

It was not until January 18th, 10 days after the snow began to fall, that schools reopened and people were able to return to their normal daily routines.