Hungary Sacks Meteorologists for Making Wrong Forecast

Next time, maybe they won't be so cautious
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2022 7:40 PM CDT
Hungary Sacks Meteorologists for Making Wrong Forecast
Stock image shows storm clouds over the Parliament building in Budapest.   (Getty - LIstvan)

Forecasting the weather is not unlike forecasting the price direction of a given stock: One can make reasonable calculations and offer probabilities, but there are always forces at play beyond the realm of prediction. Such was the case Saturday, per the BBC, when Hungary’s National Meteorological Service persuaded officials to postpone a major fireworks show and other public events due to "extreme weather warnings." Organized in celebration of St. Stephen's Day and hyped as "Europe's biggest fireworks display," the show was set to include some 40,000 fireworks launched from 240 different locations in the heart of Budapest. Two million were expected to watch, but all went home disappointed.

As it turned out, the weather was just fine. The weather service was quick to apologize on Facebook for the inconvenience, explaining that earlier forecasts showed an 80-90% chance of strong rain and winds, but that the "least likely" scenarios played out. "Unfortunately, this uncertainty factor is part of our profession," the weather service wrote. Despite the apology—and the fact that the show was merely postponed for a week—the country's two top meteorologists were fired.

Not everyone was disappointed, according to Daily News Hungary, which reports that some political leaders who oppose Prime Minister Victor Orbán’s government had previously suggested that the celebration was inappropriate given events in Ukraine and that the money could be better spent "easing the severe consequences of inflation, the energy crisis, economic problems, and the war." Per Hungary Today, top meteorologists were probably especially sensitive given memories of 2006, when a fireworks display held during a "huge storm" ended in disaster with five dead and hundreds injured. (More Hungary stories.)

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