Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann, Gerald Fleming, tells Brian Farrington about the different trends of Irish summers, and shares some summer memories of his own.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; swallows flying high, sunshine nearby, but swallows flying low, rain down below, and as for falling soot and frogs changing colour…well now!!

Irish people have long fancied themselves as amateur weather forecasters, and being able to predict the weather simply by looking at changes to the environment around them is a part of their ‘climatic’ skillsets. But is there any truth to these old tell-tale weather signs? There is and there isn’t, says Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and popular TV weather forecaster, Gerald Fleming.  

“There is often a truth contained within these old sayings,” explains Gerald, “in terms of the short-term weather forecast (next day or so) when changes can be inferred from cloud patterns or the behaviour of animals, birds or marine creatures. They are just reacting to changes which they can sense – and which we can now measure with instrumentation.

“What I do not have any belief in is the old lore that tries to connect nature with longer term predictions, such as that a lot of red berries in the autumn means a harsh winter etc etc. I don’t know of any mechanism whereby nature can ‘anticipate’ the longer changes in the weather; the weather patterns are much more complex than that!”
Gerald has been analysing and reporting on the Irish weather long enough to have seen many different types of Irish summers. And while he agrees global climate change is a reality which has been well written about, he says that the change to Irish weather trends will be very gradual.

Continue reading in this year’s June Summer Special (issue 5607)