Officials of the Hungarian National Meteorological Service are fired after a bad forecast


Two senior officials from Hungary’s National Meteorological Service (NMS) were fired on Monday after severe storms they had forecast for the capital on the country’s biggest national holiday failed to materialize, instead moving south.

The forecast foresaw intense storms in Budapest around 9:00 p.m. local time, according to reports from The Associated Press, prompting organizers to postpone a massive annual fireworks display. The fireworks show that celebrates Boxing Day, a holiday that marks the founding of the country, is usually seen by more than a million people.

After the wrong forecast, the Hungarian media criticized the agency. The NMS issued an apology for its Facebook page the next day, but it was too late to save the jobs of agency head Kornelia Radics and her deputy, Gyula Horvath.

On Tuesday morning, 17 agency leaders again released a statement on the weather service Facebook page to demand that his dismissed colleagues be reinstated as soon as possible, saying that the dismissals were politically motivated and that the forecast was issued with the best possible information at the time.

“Our strong opinion is that, despite considerable pressure from decision-makers, our colleagues…provided to the best of their knowledge and are not responsible for any alleged or actual harm,” the statement read.

Bob Ryan, former president of the American Meteorological Society, told The Washington Post that the firing sends a “chilling message” to professional scientists.

“I think it’s outrageous and now it makes all the tipsters who work in Hungary afraid of losing their job because of a wrong tip,” Ryan said.

Matt Lanza, who runs Houston’s Space City Weather, said the inherent complexities of weather make a completely accurate forecast nearly impossible.

“Like any other person, a meteorologist must be held accountable for their job performance,” Lanza said. “But unless they have carried out their duties negligently or insubordinately, it would be unjustifiable to fire a meteorologist based on that forecast alone.”

This is not the first time scientists have faced pressure from their government.

During the “sharpiegate” controversy, when President Donald Trump showed a manipulated forecast for Hurricane Dorian of 2019, several officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) feared that they could be fired for defending their policy of scientific integrity.

Trump had mistakenly tweeted that Alabama could be in the path of the storm system, a decision he and his cabinet members stood by despite NOAA forecasts showing little to no impact on that state from the storm.

New Emails Show How President Trump Irritated NOAA During Hurricane Dorian

This month, the firing of a top environmental official in Brazil drew global attention. Samuel Vieira de Souza, director of the Brazilian environmental agency IBAMA, was fired in what the AP reported was a possible act of political retribution after he sat down for an interview with a Brazilian television channel to discuss illegal gold mining in the Amazon.

President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed to further open up the Amazon to legal economic activity, and some they have criticized his Amazon policies, which have worsened deforestation, Brazil’s main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un gets angry at meteorologists

In another incident, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un once appeared to get angry with members of his country’s weather service and scolded them a month after a severe drought hit the country in 2014.

“It is necessary to fundamentally improve the work of the Hydrometeorological Service to scientifically clarify weather and climate conditions and provide accurate data for weather forecasting and weather and climate information required by various fields of the national economy in time,” Kim said. supposedly said.

In another case, six Italian seismologists were jailed and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2012 years after a lengthy legal battle after failing to predict a 2009 magnitude 6.3 earthquake that killed 308 people. His sentences were later tipped overand the seismologists were cleared of irregularities.

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The trial surprised many in the scientific community, as earthquakes are difficult, if not impossible, to predict, although some say that Progress was made. Scientists have been able to develop programs that can give limited warning of earthquakes, including California’s ShakeAlert system.

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