On Monday, two top Hungarian officials were fired after a weather forecast for an important event in the country turned out to be inaccurate.
The event was a fireworks show in honor of St. Stephen’s Day, a holiday annually hosted in the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Aug. 20 to celebrate the birth and history of Christianity in Hungary. The show usually draws more than a million spectators.
Leading up to the holiday, Hungary’s National Meteorological Service called for 75-80 percent chance of rain during the fireworks display’s start time of 9 p.m. on Aug. 20. Out of safety concerns, this forecast led to the fireworks show being rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27.
However, the storms that were forecast for the original event date did not materialize.
The head of Hungary’s National Meteorological Service Kornelia Radics, and her deputy Gyula Horvath were later fired.
Suspicions regarding the basis of the officials’ firing have circulated.
“I have been working in meteorological measurement and observation for 22 years, always to the best of my ability,” he said. “Hearing this was painful, but since there is nothing I can do about it, I have accepted it.”
The National Meteorological Service released a statement on Monday, calling the firings of Horvath and Radics “unacceptable” and “groundless”.
Weather made a significant impact on St. Stephens Day celebrations 16 years ago.
According to the Hungarian news outlet Origo, a violent storm hit Budapest during the fireworks display over the Danube River on Aug. 20, 2006.
The weather caused 500 injuries and five fatalities, including a woman who had a heart attack, a 12-year-old girl and a man who were killed by a falling tree and two people whose boat capsized during the storm.
“While forecasting has improved by leaps and bounds the past few decades, it still is and may never be perfect,” said the FOX Weather Forecast Center. “This is especially true with severe weather where subtle changes in the atmospheric conditions at small scales can have a big impact on the type of weather that ultimately occurs. We simply don’t have the technology to model the atmosphere at that fine of detail.”
“So even if the parameters in the atmosphere are conducive for destructive storms to form in a given area, not everyone will see them,” they added. “That’s what happened in Budapest. Severe weather did occur, but it hit towns 15 miles south/southwest of the city – that’s too close for comfort, and I’d argue it was an accurate forecast.”
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