Officials from the Hungarian Meteorological Service fired shots after poor forecast


Two senior officials from the National Meteorological Service (NMS) were fired Monday after severe storms they had predicted in the capital on the nation’s most important national holiday failed to materialize, and instead moved south.

Forecasts called for severe storms in Budapest around 9 p.m. local time, according to a report from Associated Press, prompting organizers to postpone a huge annual fireworks display. The fireworks display that celebrates Saint Stephen’s Day, a holiday marking the founding of the country, is usually watched by more than a million people.

After the wrong prediction, the agency was criticized by the Hungarian media. NMS has issued an apology for that Facebook page The next day, but it was too late to save the jobs of the agency’s chief, Cornelia Radix, and her deputy, Giola Horvath.

On Tuesday morning, 17 agency leaders again posted a statement on the Meteorological Service Facebook page To demand that their dismissed colleagues be reinstated as soon as possible, saying that the dismissals were politically motivated and that expectations were made based on the best information possible at the time.

“We firmly believe that despite significant pressure from decision makers, our colleagues … have given their best information and are not responsible for any alleged or actual harm,” the statement read.

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

“I think it’s outrageous and now it makes every forecaster working in Hungary fear that they will lose their jobs because of false expectations,” Ryan said.

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Matt Lanza, who runs Space City Weather in Houston, said the complexities inherent in weather make a perfectly accurate prediction nearly impossible.

“Like everyone else, the meteorologist must be held accountable for his performance on the job,” Lanza said. “But unless they carry out their duties in a negligent or disobedient manner, it would be unjustified to dismiss the forecaster based on this single prediction.”

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

during the “Sharpjet“Controversy, when President Donald Trump presented false forecasts for 2019 Hurricane Dorian, many officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) feared they might be fired for standing up for their policy on scientific integrity.

Trump had mistakenly tweeted that Alabama could be in the way of a storm system, a decision that he and members of his government have stood by despite forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing little or no impact in that state of the storm.

New emails show how President Trump caused disruption to NOAA during Hurricane Dorian

This month, the firing of a top environmental official in Brazil caught the world’s attention. Samuel Vieira de Sousa, Director of the Brazilian Environment Agency IBAMA . has been dismissed In what the Associated Press It was reportedly an act of possible political retaliation after he sat down for an interview with a Brazilian television station to discuss illegal gold mining in the Amazon.

President Jair Bolsonaro pushed to open more Amazon to legal economic activity, and some He criticized his policies in the Amazon region, which have exacerbated deforestation – Brazil’s most important source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un gets angry at weathermen

In another incident, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un once seemed angry at members of his country’s meteorological service, reprimanding 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 climatic conditions and provide accurate data for weather forecasts and meteorological and climatic information required by various areas of the national economy in a timely manner,” Kim It said.

In another case, six Italian seismologists were jailed and convicted of manslaughter in 2012 after a protracted legal battle following their failure to predict a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in 2009 that killed 308 people. Their sentences were later overturnedSeismologists have been acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Earthquake technology can reduce mortality. Afghanistan shows that it is not easy.

The experiment stunned many in the scientific community that earthquakes are difficult, if not impossible, to predict—though some say progress has been made. Scientists have been able to develop software that can give limited earthquake warning, including the ShakeAlert system in California.

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