My mother is obsessed with the weather, but thinks it’s better on the BBC

Niamh Towey: Whenever I ring, she muses on precipitation a good three minutes

I’ve become increasingly worried about my mother’s obsession with the weather.

Every time I open the laptop down at home there is always one website which is guaranteed to be open on her browser:

I often wonder if it was her who redesigned the Met Éireann homepage, given her wealth of knowledge on the subject.

She has her favourite forecasters, too, and others whom she’s not so fond of. You have to be hot on your toes to satisfy my mother’s atmospheric needs.

Whenever I ring her, she muses on the precipitation levels for a good three to four minutes.

That is generally then followed by some obscure prediction which she has read on Facebook or heard on the Seán O'Rourke show – perhaps from a postman in Donegal or a Scandi fortune teller.

She tells me about the jet stream and the winds from the east, about the current of the North Atlantic and what impact they might have on next week’s barbecue plans.

She is always incredibly optimistic about the lifespan of a heat wave, and never worries too much about mooted torrential downpours or threatening thunderstorms.

“No, no, that’ll be good. Clear the air. We need that – it’s too heavy,” she might say.

Her latest obsession is the BBC weather. She’s been telling everyone about it.

We were sitting around the table of my Uncle Sean and Aunty Mary's house last week when the RTÉ weather came on.

This is a hallowed thing in their house too. Uncle Sean shushes us even when no one is talking. He shushes the silence incase it dares breaking.

We must all drop tools and fixate on the TV as if Joanna Donnelly was performing a kind of hallucinatory act in front of the green screen.

It’s kind of like those ads for the Angelus they have on RTÉ, where the man drops his wheelbarrow at the sound of the bells in order to observe the spiritual silence.

Sacred silence

Last week, though, my Mum broke the sacred silence to tell them all how much better the BBC weather was.

“Nevermind this – put on the BBC. There’s moving maps and everything. He shows you where the wind is coming in from, over across the Atlantic next week, apparently. Never good,” she says.

Of course, nobody was listening to her, because we were counting up the sunshine emojis floating on the map of Ireland and weighing them up against the number of rain cloud emojis.

My father is a different kettle of fish altogether. If you asked him how the weather had been down at home he’d have to get up and look out the window.

He finds the weather reports farcical – “rain clearing to scattered showers – that just means more rain!”

As much as he likes to dissent from the weather-watching mantra of his wife, though, he loves nothing more than a day in the sunshine.

When we were kids, he used to tell us that he needed a week in the sun every year so he could store up the heat in his belly for the winter, like a boiler tank when you switch on the immersion. And like the little eejits we were, we believed him, too.

Let’s be honest, though, it’s not just my mother who is obsessed with the weather. As a nation, we are entirely fixated on it.

The highest-ever traffic day on was recorded on the day Storm Ophelia graced our shores.

More people came to read our stories that day they did during the 2016 general election. Gardaí writing off penalty points? No thanks. Civil unrest in Catalonia? Booorrr-iingggg. A status yellow rain warning for Co Meath? Oh yes please, say the Irish public.


Newsdesks across the country salivate at the prospect of an unusual weather event. It is the low-hanging fruit of the journalism world – a story that can affect many people but involves little work in researching.

Fire up the liveblog and watch that sweet online traffic roll in, they think, as imaginary dollar signs line up in their eyes like a slot machine which has hit the jackpot.

My mother would make a very tidy weather correspondent. She would love nothing more than chasing Evelyn Cusack for the latest rainfall reading at Valentia Observatory.

You could really rely on her analysis of the Siberian winds bringing in the November snow, not to mention her astute understanding of the impact rising sea levels might have on our rainfall levels in 2019.

As for her recommended broadcaster? Well, we all know where her loyalties lie there.