Minister of Interior Criticized for Weather Forecast Comments Skip to content

Minister of Interior Criticized for Weather Forecast Comments

Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson has been criticized for a statement he made in Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, on Monday, in relation to the September blizzard which left 10,000 sheep in North Iceland dead.

storm_northiceland_landsbjorg_2From the September blizzard in North Iceland. Photo courtesy of ICE-SAR search and rescue.

“The facts are as follows: a storm hit North Iceland in early September. Another fact: no one forecasted the weather, no warnings were issued,” Ögmundur said. The minister also criticized the lack of contact between the Met Office and the Civil Protection Department.

Weather enthusiast Sigurður Þór Guðjónsson wrote on his blog that the comments were false. “The Minister of the Interior’s suggestion in parliament that no one predicted the bad weather in September is false. The truth is that the weather had been forecast several days before,” he writes.

“It is unbelievable insolence, arrogance, but first and foremost false, that no one forecasted the blizzard,” he continues. According to Sigurður, what makes things worse is that not a single parliamentarian remarked on the issue.

Weather presenter on state broadcaster RÚV, Haraldur Ólafsson, responded to the controversy by beginning his evening report on Wednesday by presenting the weather forecast map for September 10, the day the blizzard hit.

“Good evening. It is both fun and interesting to take a look at the old weather map and the old storm predictions,” Haraldur began.

“We can see on this map that winds of 25 m/s here in North Iceland. That’s a ten on the old Beaufort wind force scale and with a ten trees can start to be uprooted,” he continued, also pointing out that the map showed that snow was forecast.

Yesterday, the minister issued a press release in response to the criticism. “It was an exaggeration to say that no one forecasted the bad weather,” he said.

“It was not my intention to belittle the Met Office’s forecasts for that September weekend. My comments at the end of my speech may have been misleading and I apologize for that,” it reads.

The Met Office has stated that it will strengthen its links with the Civil Protection Department.

Related stories:

November 9 | Ten Thousand Sheep Dead in September Blizzard

October 30 | Sheep Alive after 45 Days in Snow in North Iceland

PS/ZR

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