Weatherman Gerald Fleming to retire at end of the year

Presenter will retire after 37 years with Met Éireann but will continue to be involved in weather matters

RTÉ News bids farewell to "the winking weatherman" Gerald Fleming as he retires from presenting TV weather updates. Video: RTÉ

 

Veteran weather forecaster Gerald Fleming is retiring from Met Éireann at the end of the year after 32 years on television and 37 years with the meteorological service.

However, he will continue to be involved in weather matters through his work with the World Meteorological Organisation for which he chairs a committee and will do so for another three years.

He told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that he wants to help popularise and explain science, but will not be involved with reality television or programmes such as Dancing with the Stars.

“I will miss my colleagues, the office is small, so we’re all close.”

The Wexford man explained that one minute of camera time takes an hour to prepare between the graphics and the script.

His first weather broadcast was in 1984 on an afternoon show, but it was 1985 before he began presenting the weather after news bulletins.

He joked that the “hard pointy sticks” that were used in those early days were actually batons belonging to the conductors of the RTÉ symphony orchestra.

Highlights of his career included working with Zig and Zag, he said.

His trademark wink came about by accident in an effort to connect with the public by creating a visible connection.

He will be 60 shortly and his retirement plans include more travel now that his family are grown. “It will be a big gear change, but there are lots of things I want to do.”

He is particularly keen to pass on his experience to other countries where their meteorological service might not yet be as developed.

On the issue of climate change, he says it is important for meteorologists not to get involved in the argument. “We’re the scientists, our job is to do the science. It’s important for us to stay out of the argument about what should be done.”

He forecast that there will be more severe weather events like Storm Ophelia in the future and said it was important for people in Ireland to react as the public do in other countries where there is accepted protocol in such circumstances.