“The fortnight up to Christmas saw Ireland receive the equivalent of an entire winter’s rainfall, according to Met Eireann meteorologist Joanna Donnelly.

“It could take weeks for soil moisture levels in the Shannon catchment area to fall appreciably,” she said.

“Slow to rise: slow to fall is the adage that best sums up water table movements in that area.

“During the first fortnight of the new year, average rainfall accumulations averaged 40mm with the south-west receiving 159mm of rain: that’s twice normal levels.

“But our figures confirm that all parts of the country have been affected by considerably higher than normal rainfall levels over the past few weeks.

It’s impossible to predict the weather with any accuracy beyond 5 to 7 days ahead.

“It looks like we will see a return next week to milder conditions and what would be regarded as more normal weather patterns for this time of the year.

Certainly, we are not predicting any severe weather occurrences for the foreseeable future.”

Donnelly confirmed that that soil temperatures are currently higher than would normally be expected for this time of the year.

“This reflects the impact of the mild conditions recorded during the month of December.  We also expect soil temperatures to remain higher than normal for the foreseeable future, despite the current cold snap.”

Met Eireann is confirming that an unusually high frequency of southerly or south-westerly winds persisted throughout December. Warm and moist tropical air masses brought very mild, wet and stormy weather over the country. December 2015 was one of the mildest on record in most areas and the wettest on record in parts of the West, South and Midlands.

Meteorologists are speculating that the El Nino event in the Pacific is likely to increase the risk of strong jet streams, heavy rainfall and stormy conditions during the winter period.