Hungary’s government has sacked the chief and vice-chief of the state meteorological service after an incorrect weather forecast led to fireworks for Hungary’s Statehood Day in the capital being cancelled.
Chairwoman Dr Kornelia Radics and Vice-Chair Gyula Horvath were dismissed from the Hungarian Meteorological Service (OMSZ) with immediate effect after the service issued a weather forecast for Saturday, 20th August, that turned out to be incorrect.
The government had reportedly planned a four-day-long celebration with multiple concerts, various shows and other events in Budapest to celebrate Hungary’s Statehood Day during the weekend.
Meanwhile, the final event – which was announced as Europe’s biggest firework display – was planned in the evening on the 20th.
But as the day approached, the weather forecast projected stormy days with a 75-80 per cent chance of rain, which resulted in the government’s special task forces postponing the fireworks seven hours before the planned event.
But the wind blew the clouds in a different direction and there was no rain over the capital, Budapest, on Saturday.
Minister of Technology and Industry Laszlo Palkovics – evidently enraged by his country’s top weather experts’ mistake – decided to give them the boot on Monday, 22nd August.
Government-close media attacked the meteorological service, claiming they had provided false information, while OMSZ tried defending itself by saying that all of its forecasts include a probability factor.
OMSZ stated on Saturday evening: “The least likely of all scenarios based on the data available by mid-morning happened. This uncertainty factor is unfortunately inherent in our profession, and we have tried to communicate that.”
Hungarian weather experts who consider the media campaign and the dismissal of the two chiefs unjust have called for an independent investigation.
The chief meteorologist of the weather website Idokep, Rita Nagy-Kurunczi, said: “Although most weather forecast models predicted an extensive rainfall block in the evening hours for the central part of the country, the expected event did not occur.”
The Ministry of Technology and Industry said in a statement: “The identity of the new leaders will be decided later.”