Meteorological service officials fired for incorrect forecast during Hungarian holidays

By JUSTIN SPIKE, Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The two top officials of Hungary’s weather service were fired on Monday after an inaccurate rain forecast led to the postponement of a fireworks display on the country’s most important national holiday.

The dismissal of the director and deputy director of the National Meteorological Service prompted accusations of political interference by the Hungarian nationalist government.

The directory St. Stephen’s Day fireworks show along the Danube in Budapest – billed as the biggest screen in Europe – was canceled on Saturday afternoon based on forecasts that severe weather would likely occur around 9 p.m.

By evening, storms had not materialized in the capital, but the show, which usually attracts more than a million spectators, had already been postponed until next week due to security concerns.

The layoffs were announced in a brief statement by Minister of Technology and Industry Laszlo Palkovics, a senior cabinet member in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

The fired weather service chief, Kornelia Radics, had held her post since 2013 and her deputy, Gyula Horvath, since 2016.

Although the minister did not provide a reason for the dismissals, the meteorological service was harshly criticized in the government-aligned Hungarian media, which blamed the service’s “seriously flawed” forecasts for causing an unnecessary postponement of the fireworks.

Laura T. Thrasher