Met Éireann force change to clichéd Irish storm names

Met Éireann forced a change in the names of several storms because suggestions from British forecasters were too Irish, not Irish enough, and, in one case, too similar to a country and western star.

Gerald Fleming

Emails between the national forecasting service and the Met Office, its equivalent in the UK, reveal differences over how the yearly list of serious weather events is decided.

The correspondence, released under Freedom of Information, shows Irish meteorologists took issue with a British suggestion that a storm be called Patrick.

“The name ‘Patrick’ is a bit cliche-Irish [and also of course closely associated with a specific date, March 17th] so suggest Peter or Paul instead here?” wrote Gerald Fleming, who stood down as the country’s chief forecaster just weeks ago.

Last August, the Met Office contacted Mr Fleming, then head of forecasting at Met Éireann, with a suggested list of names for the latest storm season.

It filtered out “sensitive/inappropriate names” and pointed out “we probably need to add a Welsh name.”

Mr Fleming suggested Dylan, but went on: “Or is it too familiar [Bob Dylan] or too hackneyed [Dylan Thomas]. Another possibility is Rhiannon [and we are probably unlikely to get to ‘R’].

“Could I also suggest a bit more Irish flavour…”

The forecaster, known as the Winking Wweatherman for his trademark sign off during decades of TV reports, asked for Daniel to be changed to Donal, Finn to Fionn, and Miranda to Maeve.

Furthermore, he said Nathan should be changed to Niall.

“We have a big C&W star in Ireland called Nathan Carter, so probably best to avoid this,” he wrote.

Mr Fleming added: “Certain sections of our media seem unnaturally interested in how many names ‘we’ got as opposed to how many ‘they’ got in!

“I never encourage that line of thinking and just say that the list is agreed between us — which is no more than the truth!”

An internal Met Eireann note described names suggested by Irish weather watchers as “very eclectic”.

“I think we can safely reject ‘Tayto’, ‘Tweedledum’, ‘Tweedledee’, ‘Voldemort’, and a few others!” he said.

“Godot would be interesting. How long would we have to wait?”


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