weather style wars are getting a bit distracting but things could be worse
You can blame Jean Byrne if you wish. Her and her Liz Hurley moment. As soon as Jean appeared on screen wearing that famous black dress with the slits up the side, it changed the face -- not to mention the chest, hips and bum -- of Irish TV weather broadcasts forever.
Residual memories of grey men in grey suits pointing a grey stick at a grey weather chart and speaking through grey teeth that never seemed to move were banished in an instant.
Suddenly, all the other female weather forecasters, from RTE to TV3 to TG4, were following suit by getting out their best kit.
To be fair to Jean, she never asked for the attention, the newspaper articles, the YouTube video compilations. She was just doing what she'd always done: following no one else's fashion forecast but her own.
It was fun for a while, wondering what Jean would be wearing from one season to the next. Shiny black latex to let us know there was going to be a sharp frost and some black ice on back roads? A sparkle of seasonal silver because Christmas was just around the corner? Or perhaps a dash of dazzling canary yellow to signal that we were in for a nice, sunny bank holiday weekend?
But lately the situation has spun out of control. Now the afternoon and evening weather bulletins resemble an episode of Off the Rails.
It's all become a terrible distraction. How can you absorb what's said when you're concentrating on Nuala Carey's earrings or Ursula Bracken's blouse? How are you supposed to understand the nuances of the contours on the weather map when you're preoccupied with studying the contours of Audrey McGrath squeezed into a pencil skirt?
Even that dependable, rain-lashed rock of common sense Evelyn Cusack is at it, turning up the other evening in a black jacket with white-edged lapels that suggested she was on her way to a Prisoner-themed fancy dress party.
Still, our weatherwomen have a long way to go before they catch up with those in continental Europe, where you're as likely to get a low-cut top and hotpants as low pressure and a heatwave.
A few years ago in Italy, where scantily-clad women are the nightly norm on everything from current affairs programmes to sports broadcasts, weatherwoman Eleonora Pedron was reprimanded for appearing in a Playboy spread in a G-string and a smile.
But even Eleonora had nothing on Greek channel Star's weatherwoman Petroula Kostidou, who used to deliver the bulletin while gyrating provocatively in a tiny bikini. I can't imagine our weatherwomen doing that.
Actually, I probably can. But I'd better not.