Sitting your exams while the sun shines: how the Leaving Cert weather phenomenon is more than just a myth


THE phrase ‘Leaving Cert weather’ is one the Irish public trots out annually, similar to the ‘long stretch in the evening’.

s students all know, the idea of Leaving Cert weather, or exam weather, is that the sun comes out and conditions improve significantly as they prepare to take state exams – and while they take them.

According to Met Éireann’s climate department, between February and June the influence of continental and Greenland anticyclones make these the months of least rainfall.

Air frost is not infrequent at inland locations, even in May, and continental anticyclones blocking Atlantic depressions are usually responsible for dry periods in late spring.

Met Éireann said towards late June or early July the rise in pressure over the ocean, and a corresponding fall in pressure over Europe, results in the general wind flow at the surface becoming westerly, bringing air with a long ocean track over Ireland.

As a result, cloud cover, humidity and rainfall increase.

With the start of the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams today, has been looking back on the weather on this day in previous year at Met Éireann’s weather station in Glasnevin, Dublin, to see if there is any truth behind the Leaving Cert weather.

And it seems to have at least some basis. 

Last year, a tropical air mass brought heatwave conditions, with prolonged sunshine and average temperatures above 20C for over a week.

And Met Éireann data from the Glasnevin weather station shows no rain fell on June 8 for any of the years 2018, 2019, or 2020.

June 8, 2018 was the warmest day in the data set, with temperatures reaching 22.7C.

The average temperature on this day over the last decade was 18.6C.

Going back to June 8, 2012, this was the worst day in the last 10 years, when the top temperature in Glasnevin was 13.2C, while 6.5 mm of rain fell.

June 8, 2017 was another wet day with 7.1mm of rain falling. However, it was far from cold, with temperatures reaching 19.4C

On average, just 1.5mm of rain has fallen on June 8 at the Glasnevin observatory since 2012.

It comes as Met Éireann meteorologist Brandon Creagh said the weather today is “not stereotypical Leaving Cert weather”.

“Summer weather is generally not too bad but at the moment, low pressure off the Atlantic is what is dominating our weather,” said Mr Creagh.

“At the moment it’s not your stereotypical Leaving Cert weather, with an Atlantic regime in for the week.

“It’s going to be wet and windy today for the west and north and showers for everywhere else. Top temperatures will be 18C or 19C, so not the blistering Leaving Cert weather that we can remember from past years.

“It’s going to stay wet and breezy for the rest of the week but there will be a few sunny spells, especially after the exams finish tomorrow evening, Thursday, it will brighten up.

“It will be rainy or drizzly for the morning – that’s because of tropical Storm Alex – and it could reach up to 21C in the southeast when the longer spells of sunshine break through tomorrow.”

He added: “Friday is staying breezy with sunny spells and widespread showers and the weekend is kind of similar, with breezy conditions, some sunny spells and showers.”

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