Hungary: Weather service bosses fired after botched storm forecast led to cancelation of popular fireworks display in Budapest

The service’s storm warning led to the postponement of the country’s biggest fireworks display on St. Stephen’s Day

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: MOA
Visitors at the Hungarian parliament when the postponement of the fireworks was decided upon. (MTI/Anikó Kovács)

On Monday, the president and vice-president of Hungary’s National Meteorological Service (OMSZ), Kornélia Radics and Gyula Horváth, were dismissed with immediate effect after the service’s weather forecast for Saturday led to the postponement of the country’s most watched event, fireworks on Hungary’s national holiday, St. Stephen’s Day, on Aug. 20.

The annual fireworks display on St. Stephen’s Day is an important date for Hungarians, with up to 1 million people arriving from across the country every year to view the event.

As Remix News reported on Monday, the fireworks were postponed for a week until Aug. 27 by the government operative group overseeing the fireworks and the annual procession based on the OMSZ’s weather forecast, which was for heavy rain and thunder storms.

Around midday on Saturday, when the operative group made its decision, the OMSZ gave an 83 percent chance for heavy rain and storms during the event scheduled for 9 p.m. Although the morning featured heavy rain, and there was some occasional drizzle in the afternoon, the evening saw only an overcast sky, with the forecasted storm never arriving.

The Hungarian Meteorological Office apologized on Sunday for issuing storm warnings on Saturday, leading to the cancelation of the country’s largest annual fireworks display.

“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 have celebrated the canonization of their first Christian King, St. Stephen (975-1038) with fireworks that have only ever been canceled for 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.

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