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Katesbridge: The legend of Northern Ireland's ‘frosty hollows’

What is it about Katesbridge? Last Wednesday night temperatures in the Co Down hamlet tumbled to -5.7C — the lowest anywhere in the UK.

If you take a look at the records, it’s something that appears to happen quite a lot.

The village has already been UK’s chilliest once this winter, with temperatures plummeting to -5.2C on December 10.

But it was in 2011 that Katesbridge really excelled, recording the UK’s lowest temperature on no fewer than 13 occasions.

The unfortunate inhabitants shivered as overnight temperatures of 0.5C struck in June 29 — close to Midsummer — while elsewhere Gravesend was basking in the sunshine at 21.9C.

It was on December 21 2010 that the mercury plunged to an incredible -17.8C, one of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in Northern Ireland.

But the overall record for the coldest temperature in Northern Ireland was captured the same winter by Castlederg, where inhabitants fought -18.7C.

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And according to senior Met Office forecaster John Wylie, there is a reason why both locations experience such low temperatures — because they are both located in low-lying regions known as “frost hollows”.

“Katesbridge sits in the drumlin country of Co Down and cold air drains into the area that it’s in — something that also happens in Castlederg,” he says.”On Wednesday night, the two sites were the first and third coldest spots in the UK, with -5.7C in Katesbridge and -4.1C in Castlederg.

“They are in spots which are very low-lying and the cold air sinks to the lowest point.

“It’s the same thing that explains why your head can be warm and your feet cold at the same time.

“If there were a very cold winter you would almost expect to find extremely low temperatures in both those places.”

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