St Patrick's Day weather - gentle lamb or roaring lion?

By Cecilia Daly
BBC News NI Weather Presenter

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
St Patrick's Day in Belfast in 2016 proved to be a good day with thousands enjoying an open air concert

March is a fickle month.

According to weather lore, March is said to come in like a lion and out like a lamb, meaning the month usually starts with cold, unsettled weather, but ends mild and rather pleasant.

St Patrick's Day falls slap bang in the middle and looking back at the past decade the weather across Northern Ireland has varied considerably.

If you had taken part in a St Patrick's Day parade over the past 10 years, it would have been possible to get frostbite on the coldest in 2018, or sunburn on a warm and sunny 17 March 2010 - particularly if you're a redhead.

Going back even further, the warmest ever St Patrick's Day was in 2005, when Murlough in County Down saw a temperature of 18.5C.

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
St Patrick's day in Belfast in 2017 was a wet affair

In 1985 there was snow on the ground in counties Antrim and Tyrone but at the same time Belfast had more than 11 hours of sunshine, hence the possibility of sunburn.

No need for sunscreen

The sun can be as strong in mid-March as at the end of September and the skin will have little if any built-up protection in Spring compared with early Autumn.

Of course we are a hardy lot and the first bank holiday after the Christmas break is always welcome no matter what the weather.

This year it looks as though we might get lucky and find a brief spell of drier weather on Sunday after a cold, wet Saturday.

It certainly won't be challenging the heat of 2005, with a cold northwest wind and a few wintry showers in the mix.

Redheads needn't worry about the sunscreen this year.