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Warning Fatigue

'There have been too many yellow warnings': Met Éireann says it will issue fewer yellow warnings

Met Éireann said the warnings are useful for some people, but for the rest of the population, a yellow warning just means “it’s a soft day”.

MET ÉIREANN HAS today said it will be issuing fewer yellow weather warnings in response to “warning fatigue” among the public. 

The change of approach was announced today by Met Éireann’s new head of forecasting, Eoin Sherlock at the launch of the Government’s annual ‘Be Winter Ready’ information campaign. 

Sherlock, who has taken over from Evelyn Cusack following her retirement in June, said that Met Éireann is “cognisant of the fact that there have been too many yellow warnings”.

“In terms of warnings, I’ve heard the term ‘warning fatigue’. From our perspective we issue warnings based on thresholds,” Sherlock said. 

He explained that Met Éireann has looked at the thresholds for warnings and said that with yellow warnings the organisation will be increasing the threshold for windspeed.

“Perhaps for low temperatures they won’t be as prevalent as they are now,” he said.

Sherlock said the warnings are useful for some people, but for the rest of the population, a yellow warning just means “it’s a soft day”.

“If you are a painter or decorater, a yellow warning means you mightn’t be able to do work that day, so it is important for them,” he said.

“But it also helps with the state’s response to extreme weather. We issue these warnings…and that triggers things to happen in the local authorities,” he added.

Sherlock said going forward it will be important for the public to take and act on information from Met Éireann, such as when a storm is named. 

“If you know a storm has been named, that’s serious weather. It means you take care,” he said.

“But that’s kind of what we are trying to do, minimise the amount of yellows we do and also keep it going because this is how the state manages extreme weather,” he added.

This week, Ireland braced for Storm Babet with a status orange rain warning issued for a number of counties.

Heavy downpours and blustery winds resulted in flooding in Cork yesterday, with flood barriers erected in Mallow and Fermoy as the water began to rise over the banks of the River Blackwater.

Today, flooding continues in southern coastal counties with counties Cork and Kerry under status orange rain warnings until 1pm today.

Yellow warnings remain in place for the rest of the country.

Met Éireann’s colour coding system has been used for over a decade, but though it sounds simple it’s often not that straightforward.

The Journal previously spoke to former-head forecaster Evelyn Cusack who talked us through just how the warnings work.

Be Winter Ready Campaign

The Government today launched its ‘Be Winter Ready’ information campaign which encourages people to prepare for the challenges of winter. 

This year’s campaign is focused on road safety following an increase in road deaths this year. 

Speaking at today’s launch, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the campaign is an opportunity for individuals and households to “take stock of the risks that winter can sometimes inflict, and to check on older relatives and neighbours when we experience weather extremes this winter”.

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