I know … I know, ‘we have to move with the times.’ This dinosaur has moved with lots of times in my time, but some of this movement I just don’t see the sense of. What do you think of coloured weather warnings in this country? Was it not better to just give us the weather forecast as best you could and move on to Des Cahill or something like that? Personally speaking,
I feel that trooping the weather colours is all a load of bullocks … or something like that. When they first came out, the coloured warnings put the fear of God into God-fearing people, but over a short time that fear has turned into an ambiguous approach of indifference – like the little boy who cried wolf. Listen … the facts are that we don’t have hurricanes, tornedos or typhoons in Ireland!
As I write this, last Saturday, 10th September was one heck of a beautiful day with temperatures reaching an unseasonal 22 degrees in a clear blue sky. At lunchtime, the weather forecaster I listened to, gave a yellow rain warning for the next day where I live. I’ll come back to the Sunday in a moment – if that’s OK with the rest of you.
Let us first rewind a month or so to the middle of a drought. Then, lo and behold, we received yellow, amber and even red warnings of torrential rain that was coming. Dire warnings against driving into floods on roads – same as you would warn a child not to be ‘splashing around in that puddle.’ If the road was flooded, I – along with everybody I know, would have been able to figure out that one for ourselves.
To be fair to the metrological people, this is a hard country to predict the weather and some parts of the country did get deluged; but the result of my yellow warning was a bit of a ‘squib’ in the middle of one of the three targeted nights.
But back to last Sunday, 11th September. We did get a wet day, for most of the day – but it was soft rain and without a trace of wind. Now I ask you, how in the name of all things holy or otherwise, does a wet day in Ireland become a case for a yellow alert warning?
The Meteorological Service will contend that the new coloured weather warnings are there for all our good; to alert us to take safety precautions and to take care of ourselves. But has the system not lost credibility by teetering over the top? When it was first launched the ‘colours’ galvanised ordinary folk into extraordinary action.
Then we all woke up the next morning to find that the world as we knew it was still there – and still the ‘same old.’ Now, those same people, whilst not ignoring the weather advice, will just go on and assess the situation as man has done since the beginning of time.
The Met Office will tell us about significant new developments in weather forecasting. I don’t see it. I remember back when Radio Eireann broadcast a late night forecast ‘for farmers and fishermen’, that covered the following 24 hours with regional detail. I guarantee you that information was no less accurate than your present day yellow, orange and red warnings.
The people listened and understood the simple language of what they needed to know. Those same people kept an eye on nature as well. The fisherman watched the sky and the farmer could tell by how avariciously his cattle grazed in the morning as to how the evening would turn out.
Don’t get me wrong: Of course there is a need for flood and storm warnings in coastal areas and areas prone to flooding, but many believe that the ‘over-egging’ of weather presentation has devalued the service.
A Status Yellow weather alert is meant to notify those who are at risk because of their location or activity – but ‘does not pose a threat to the general population.’
For Status Orange, you are to ‘Be Prepared’. ‘The issue of an Orange level weather warning implies that all recipients in the affected areas should prepare themselves in an appropriate way for the anticipated conditions.
Status Red means take action – as any of you might have guessed. You don’t go sightseeing from a cliff-edge, or shelter under a tree that is about to be blown down – and don’t spread yourself for a picnic in a snow drift.
I still think it would be better if everybody could listen to a simple weather forecast and just be told in everyday language what the weather is going to be like tomorrow …!
This is Ireland – for God’s sake!!
The weather forecast is a programme in which it takes ten minutes to say something that should be covered in forty words.