Next time you’re cursing the weather after being caught in an unexpected shower, spare a thought for the Met Éireann weather forecasters who are sure to arrive into work the following morning to an email or two complaining that they failed to forecast that or some other shower.
The country’s forecasting service has received hundreds of complaints in the last number of years. Reading them provides a little window into the world of the meteorologist.
One beef farmer complainant from Offaly said he was tearing his hair out after listening to a forecast which predicted rain and thunderstorms. “We just haven’t got it, or else Birr is on a different planet. It is very frustrating trying to plan for hay, silage or turf when the forecast is so inaccurate. I’m a little bronzed off at this stage. Midland farmers matter,” he said.
Another took issue with grass growth data. “Ye would want to seriously have a look into your statement about grass growth from the farming weather on 10/04/16 because it is complete nonsense. If anything it’s eight days behind.”
Some folks have taken issue with the forecast for Dublin. “Since when is Dublin a region? Are the Dubs now considered the fifth province?” one said, another saying “being from the midlands… it is difficult to get an accurate regional forecast. I suggest that you add a fifth region for the middle of the country.” Perhaps Met Éireann could call it Middle Ireland.
As an island on the edge of the Atlantic, we as a country have our fair share of rain and like politics, all weather is local.
In fairness, Met Éireann offers a very localised forecast on its website and app, down to parish level and smaller, where the very local weather is predicted for the week ahead.
A lot of farmers like this, but many use it in conjunction with other forecasters. As one puts it “when they all agree, I can be fairly sure they’re right”.
That said, as the national weather service, which appears on the national broadcaster, Met Éireann will always be the one held to account. Hence these comments: “Make it stop raining, I’m sick of getting wet” and “are we living on the same island as Met Éireann because it’s every week, the same old story. Met Éireann says one thing and the sky above our heads says another”.
I thought that one person summed it up well: “If you forecast a likelihood of “light to heavy rain all day, bring umbrella and wellingtons, you will seldom go wrong.” The complaints reminded me of a Pat Shortt line: “It’d be a lovely little country, if only we could roof it.”