This month back in 1987, weather forecaster Michael Fish confidently assured BBC viewers not to worry, that there was no hurricane on the way. Within hours, what became known as the ‘Great Storm’ ravaged the south of England and 18 people were killed as a result of its ferocity.
Ever since, weather forecasters have erred on the side of giving us the worst-case scenario and are happy to be proved wrong if the weather turns out more benign than they predicted. However, some members of the public get quite annoyed at this and there were some criticisms of Met Éireann and the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group in the wake of ex-hurricane Storm Lorenzo, which did not prove anywhere near as damaging as they had forecast last week.
Where it did hit hard in parts of the north east of the country, there were indications of the more widespread damage it could have done had it taken a slightly different path across the country, which it was not possible to accurately predict in advance. Therefore, the urging of caution was well justified and there was no loss of life as a result of the stormy conditions, unlike two years ago when Storm Ophelia led to three deaths.
It is understandable that people don’t like their senses being assaulted by a glut of weather warnings – be they Status Yellow, Orange or Red – but there is no evidence of that being overdone. It simply would not be in the interests of Met Éireann and the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group to cry wolf too often, but as the old saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting the safety of the general public.