There’s nothing ‘Dublin-centric’ about Met Éireann’s forecasting – with the west getting more than its fair share of attention, according to Evelyn Cusack.
On Moncrieff this afternoon, the forecaster responded to some of the complaints from the public that came in after Storm Eunice earlier this year.
The Irish Examiner this morning revealed that the complaints included questions over how storm systems could recognise county boundaries, accusations of panic on broadcasts and claims of a Dublin bias.
Ms Cusack said that as a public service Met Éireann welcomes all questions and comments – but complaints are relatively rare considering the website gets 140 million page views a year.
She said the county boundary complaints were likely because Status Red warnings were issued for Counties Kerry and Clare, but not Limerick.
“If you’re in Limerick you’re thinking how come we’re ‘only’ Orange – but depending on the wind direction in a north westerly storm, in fact, Clare protects Limerick in a way,” she said. “It’s the same thing with Kerry if it is coming in from the southwest.”
“Conditions and impacts are worse in coastal regions as well and when we turn a county red, basically the county has to close down.
“Limerick City would have to close down so we would want to be very sure that was going to happen and it wasn’t just a coastal effect.”
She said Met Éireann issues warnings on a county level even though it is capable of refining them down to about 2.5kms
“Trying to put that on a map would be quite difficult and also, each local authority is responsible for defences in their own county,” she said.
“So, if you have, kind of, half of Clare and you lived on that line, there would be a lot of confusion. So, at the moment the local authorities want us to keep to the counties because then there is one local authority looking at defences - flood defences and storm defences - for each county.
“We do try and refine it by saying the east of the county will be worse in the morning and the west in the afternoon or something like that.”
She said claims of Dublin-bias have more to do with the media than the forecaster.
“The media does tend to be Dublin-centric a lot of the time and in fact, I would blame Met Éireann for being the opposite,” she said. “I think we’re more west-oriented.
“If you ever listen in to any of our forecasts it is always about patchy rain in the west or gales in the west and I mean, 1.5 million people in the east.
“A lot of the time the weather is fine and sunny in Dublin and people are ringing us saying what are you talking about, the weather’s fine.
“In some ways, we tend to bias it towards the worse end of the weather a bit.”