All the drama from UK meteorologist saying Storm Fionn should not have been named by Met Éireann

Last Tuesday, Met Éireann announced four weather warnings for the country as the newly named Storm Fionn approached.

There was a status orange wind warning for Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork and Kerry.

On top of that, there was a status yellow wind warning for the south of the country, a yellow snow-ice warning for the entire country and a status yellow warning in place for high seas along Atlantic Seaboard.

While the impact in Ireland was clear (dangerous roads, high winds and homes losing power) the impact in the UK was expected to be minimal.

This led Channel 4 weather presenter Liam Dutton to criticise Met Éireann’s decision to name the storm.

In 2015, the two met offices teamed up in a joint initiative to name winter storms.

Dutton criticised the joint initiative between Met Éireann and the UK Met Office, taking to Twitter to say: "This is the problem with the storm naming system.

"The Irish Met Office, @MetEireann, have different (lower) criteria that are numerically driven, compared to the @metoffice’s impact-based criteria.

"#StormFionn that has been named by @MetEireann shouldn’t have been named," Dutton added.

"It needs no more than a standard weather warning. It’s not even a low pressure with a storm centre, just a squeeze in the isobars. What next? Naming raindrops? It’s ridiculous!"

Many were critical of Dutton on social media, however he did receive support from commenters as well.

On Thursday morning, Dutton was back on social media to reiterate his point that the windy weather was "NOT so Storm Fionn".

Dutton also wrote an article on the Channel 4 website to go into further detail about why he criticised Met Éireann.

"The main reason that I disagree with Met Eireann naming Storm Fionn is that there was no storm in the sense that many of us would consider a storm," he wrote.

"A look at the pressure chart for Tuesday shows no marked low pressure anywhere near Ireland. The nearest marked area of low pressure is located 500 miles northwards, east of the Faroe Islands.

"A look at the satellite image from Tuesday afternoon shows no discernible swirl of cloud that many of us would identify with a storm.

"So what was it that was being named? Well, effectively some very strong gusty winds associated with heavy wintry showers that were rolling into the west coast of Ireland off the Atlantic Ocean."

Dutton went into further detail about why he was critical of the joint initiative as both meteorological offices use different criteria to name storms.

Liam Dutton. Picture: Channel 4 via Youtube

"The Met Office uses impact-based criteria, which is based on the level of expected impacts the weather will bring.

"Met Eireann uses fixed numerical criteria, which means a storm will be named whenever mean wind speeds are between 65 and 80 km/h and/or gusts between 110 and 130 km/h."

Dutton added that naming storm was a useful tool, but only "when used sensibly." Dutton also included a number of suggestions to improve the joint initiative in the future, including:

"Both the Met Office and Met Eireann using exactly the same criteria to name storms – be it numerical or impact-based (preferably the latter)

"Work closer together to adequately establish whether or not a storm should be named for the UK and Ireland"


After all that, what have Met Éireann said?

’We treasure all our citizens equally’

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday, Evelyn Cusack said: "I can see his point in the sense that it wasn’t a traditional swirling vortex storm.

"We treasure all our citizens equally. We issued those warning because of very high sea and very dangers conditions in the more coastal areas of the south-west and west of Ireland.

Evelyn Cusack

"Recently there has been some very tragic deaths from people being swept into the sea and off cliffs near the edge.

"So really, for the west of Ireland, conditions can be very very poor indeed."

When asked if Met Éireann had been too cautious and if Dutton’s comment had been snide, Cusack replied saying: "I’m sure he just said it in the spur of the moment.

"I’m sure he didn’t imply any deep criticism of the Met Éireann meteorologists."

Cusack further defended Met Éireann, telling that: "It doesn’t matter what we call it, the point is if our system moves on to the UK they would use the name and vice versa so it doesn’t really matter what the criteria are."



By Steve Neville

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