The Hungarian Meteorological Office apologized on Sunday for issuing storm warnings on Saturday which led to the cancelation of the country’s largest annual fireworks on St. Stephen’s Day in Budapest.
“The events of last [Saturday] night, the model results available until yesterday morning, and the scenarios created from them did not materialize. The least likely of the outcomes at the time happened. Unfortunately, this factor of uncertainty is part of our profession, and we tried to communicate this as well. We apologize for the inconvenience!” the Meteorological Office (OMSZ) wrote in a Facebook post.
Since 1928, Hungarians celebrate the canonization of their first Christian King, St. Stephen (975-1038) with fireworks that have only been canceled in three years during World War II. St. Stephen, born under the pagan name Vajk, officially made Christianity the state religion of the country and was canonized in 1083.
The fireworks were postponed for a week to Aug. 27 by the government operative group overseeing the National Day fireworks and the procession of St. Stephen’s based on the OMSZ’s weather forecast, which was for heavy rains and storms. The Aug. 20 fireworks attract around 1 million viewers each year from across the country.
In 2006, during the reign of socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, a major storm hit Budapest during the fireworks, with the ensuing stampede killing five and injuring hundreds.