herald

Friday 15 December 2017

weatheRing the storm of complaints

I once complained about the Met Office. In this very paper, about a year ago, I rubbished their capacity to get the weather right.

They didn't like it. In fact, they disliked it enough to write to me in gentlemanly protest, the top guy explaining, in some scientific detail, how they really hadn't got it that wrong.

I thanked him for trying to educate me and apologised for upsetting them.

The amazing thing is that they were able to find the time to care what I said about them. Because there they are in their funny-shaped building in Glasnevin, doing the day job while trying to cope with letters giving out about the Met Office being inaccurate, using the wrong language and causing the cows to get wringing wet. Not to mention accusing them of regional bias.

According to weekend reports one of the whinges they received this year was that they favoured one particular province in their forecasting.

"Munster seems to get the worst weather and yet this is not reported as such," the correspondent wrote. "You would almost think that Met Eireann executives were working for the tourist board in Munster."

On the other hand, someone on the east coast didn't think the forecasters were fair to their area, which, the complaint said, had been told to expect "the odd scattered shower", whereas continuous rain happened instead. Or, as the complainant put it, using capital letters to hammer home how disappointed they were, "IT RAINED FOR 11 SOLID HOURS."

bucketed

Then there was the farmer's wife in the south west who sat down to write to them at 2am. Her family's cows had not been brought in under shelter because Met Eireann had promised the weather would be grand, and instead it bucketed.

It's amazing how many people plan for weather they're told is going to happen, and when it doesn't, get ratty beyond belief.

Not only do they sulk over failing to bring their brolly with them, but they blame the Met Office, who presumably get so busy showing favouritism to Munster that they can't get the weather right anywhere else.

Now, to be honest, the Met Office doesn't actually get that many letters of complaint - somewhere between thirty and forty a year on average. But every year they get a handful from viewers devoted to preserving the purity of the English language. They're the ones who hate the forecasters for saying "the get-go" when they could say "the start" and for saying "Xmas" for Christmas.

We all moan about the weather all the time anyway. But when it's not the weather we were promised, we blame the unfortunate Met Office.

For a career in meteorology, only masochists need apply.

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