A tricky question

Courtesy of the BBC

News presenter Martine Croxall asked Ben Rich a rather tricky question in the BBC news this afternoon regarding why we have jumped from D to J in the naming of storms, and just what were the exact requirements for a storm to be named. I think on the whole Ben Rich did very well in answering her questions, basically the Spanish beat the Irish to it with regarding to storm Jorge, and the naming of storms is a very complicated business so please don’t try this at home! He did say that it has to do with impacts, but as far as I know this is not strictly true. The Irish don’t use the same impact/likelihood matrix the Met Office have adopted and love so much, they use the old threshold based system. So when Met Eireann expect the wind speed to exceed a certain threshold, either for mean speeds or in gusts, they might issue an amber alert which in itself triggers the naming of a storm, it’s not the impact, and that’s why in the last few years we have seen so many under par storms being named that way.

They unlike the great Oz down at the Met Office have at least published the thresholds they use to issue any on of their alerts, it’s clear and unambiguous. Although as I read through it I did find it a little confusing because although they mention “impacts” being their “core rationale” for the issuance of weather warnings, they still have a series of threshold for each level of warning. You can perhaps guess what the thresholds the UKMO use but they aren’t laid down hard and fast like this. I wonder how far Met Eireann would get if they treated the people who lived in countries Mayo or Donegal like the Met Office treat the people who live in the north and west of Scotland?

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