It was providential timing that Met Éireann launched its new app and seven-day forecast on the first day of spring. The sun gleamed off the glass panels of Met Éireann's distinctive pyramid-style headquarters in Glasnevin.
After years of sticking resolutely to five-day forecasts, Met Éireann is now moving to a seven-day forecast, which is good news for farmers, ice cream sellers and householders trying to plan barbecues a week ahead in Ireland’s capricious climate.
Met Éireann director Eoin Moran called it a "silent revolution" arising out of advances in math and physics coupled with the increased computing power of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Ireland, he said, had probably the most variable and therefore complicated climate in the whole world to predict.
Met Éireann has launched a new app which will have the seven-day forecast not just for the country but for 3,000 locations across the country. Met Éireann forecaster Evelyn Cusack said the detailed seven-day forecast would be available "parish by parish and town by town".
The app will pick up a location from a mobile phone and give an hourly breakdown of the weather for the first two days, then a forecast at three hourly intervals up to seven days.
The app will be able to minutely plot rainfall patterns to five minute intervals. Previously the gap was 50 minutes.
The app is bound to be a success judging by the popularity of the Met Éireann website. Traffic to the website peaks whenever there is what is euphemistically called a “weather event”, but there seems to be nothing but weather events at the present in this new era of climate change.
The national forecaster is already the most visited public sector site in Ireland. In the last year it received 50 million views, peaking with Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma receiving 412,000 and 328,000 daily visitors respectively.
The Minister with responsibility for weather, Eoghan Murphy, (climate is Denis Naughten's domain) said Ireland was a weather-obsessed country, and that obsession extended to himself. "This app has been described as the Holy Grail for weather nerds, but we are all weather nerds at the moment."
On taking office and realising that forecasting was within his domain, he said “my number one priority was to make sure that we had better pollen count readings as I am a hay fever suffer”.