National Meteorological Service’s grave error prompted calling off national holiday fireworks
The erroneous forecast by the National Meteorological Service led the Operative Board responsible for the safe running of the celebrations to decide on postponing the 20 August fireworks display in Hungary. 80-90 per cent chance of rain and high gusts of wind were expected for the time of the fireworks, but none of that occurred.
Based on preliminary forecasts from the Hungarian National Meteorological Service (OMSZ), the Operative Board decided on the Hungarian national holiday on 20 August, that the weather conditions were not conducive to the safe operation of the fireworks display, a traditional part of the celebrations scheduled for 9pm on Saturday evening. The spectacle was postponed for a week. However, OMSZ’s forecast turned out to be far off the mark, and by the evening the storm had passed in Budapest, the Origo news portal points out.
The forecast early on Saturday morning, when the celebrations started, said:
A moving front is shaping the weather. The sky will be overcast or very cloudy. Showers and thunderstorms may hit the capital and its wider surroundings in several waves, followed by rain of varying intensity. Between periods of rainfall shorter or longer breaks are to be expected, but the timing of these cannot be predicted. Thunderstorms may be accompanied by downpours, while hail and gusty winds will be less common. Winds from the north, northwest will increase, and strong gusts may accompany thunderstorms intermitantly.
Highest temperatures in Budapest will be around 27, with 28 degrees in the early afternoon and 24 degrees in the late evening.
Az OMSZ még, az operatív törzs döntése előtt , – melyet 13 óra után közöltek – ezt írta:
Before the decision of the Operative Board, which was announced after 1 pm, OMSZ wrote:
The weather for the rest of the day on 20.08.2022 will be as follows: The frontal zone will continue to move into the Carpathian Basin from the south, so the precipitation will continue into the evening. As precipitation has occurred with longer and shorter intervals since the morning hours and will continue into the afternoon hours, cloud bases are expected to decrease. At present, the cloud base in Budapest is at 4000FT (about 1300 m), with precipitation-induced scattered clouds below at 1000FT (about 300 m). Further convective precipitation (showers, thunderstorms) is expected in several waves around the capital until the evening, so by evening the cloud base will decrease to 2500-3500FT (about 800-1100 m), which will also attract cloud bases around 1000FT (300 m) in persistent precipitation. Winds will be NW in the evening, with the strongest gusts expected at 25-30km/h.
The Operative Board then decided to postpone the fireworks display planned for the evening.
No other decision could have been made, as the safety of the people is the most important. Many people in Hungary still remember the fireworks of the Socialist Gyurcsany government in 2006, which was held in a huge storm. Five people were killed and hundreds were injured.
In such cases, the Operative Board receives the data from the OMSZ and then, on the basis of this data makes a proposal and finally a decision, which was announced shortly after 1 pm:
As previously announced, the Operative Board responsible for the safe organisation of the celebrations of 20 August met at 12 noon. Based on the latest comprehensive forecast of the National Meteorological Service and the situational assessment of fireworks and event organisers, it was concluded that the conditions for the safe organisation of the fireworks display planned for 21:00 are unlikely to be met and thus it was decided to postpone the event. The new date for the fireworks is scheduled for Saturday, 27 August 2022 at 9 pm.
Zoltan Kovacs, state secretary for international communications and relations and head of the Operative Board, informed the public of the decision.
Subsequently, OMSZ sent out further warnings throughout the day, although by late Saturday evening it was clear that the forecasted storm was not going to materialise. In other words, even a few hours before the scheduled time of the fireworks display, the OMSZ was forecasting rain and thunderstorms.
At 3:22 pm – The National Meteorological Service said in a warning on Saturday afternoon that thunderstorms are expected to continue in several waves across the country. Thunderstorms may be accompanied by downpours (up to more than 50 mm of precipitation in some places), but may also be accompanied by localised hail (typically with ice chunks 1-3 cm in diameter) and gusty winds.
Later, at 4:24 pm, the OMSZ wrote:
The weather is expected to be mostly cloudy or overcast, with a few hours of sunshine in the north-eastern third of the country on Sunday. Showers and thunderstorms are expected in several places, in several waves. There is still a risk of downpours, especially in the Transdanubian region, with persistent rain in places. Significant amounts of precipitation are expected in several places until Sunday evening. Strong winds from the North, with occasional strong gusts can be expected in the western part of the Transdanubian region on Sunday. Strong to gusty winds are possible in the areas of thunderstorms.
However, there was no storm, no rain, the fireworks had to be postponed for a week due to an incorrect forecast by the OMSZ.