Maverick forecaster Ken Ring was right as rain

Maverick forecaster Ken Ring was right as rain

By Breda Heffernan
Monday August 24 2009
AN unorthodox weather watcher who uses the moon and the tides to create long-term forecasts is celebrating after his predictions for the Irish summer have largely come to pass.

New Zealander Ken Ring correctly predicted the summer’s mini-heatwave at the start of June and was on the money when he calculated that July would be a washout.

His achievement is all the more remarkable as some of the experts have got their long-term forecasts spectacularly wrong. The UK Met Office was left with egg on its face after trumpeting a “barbecue summer” in April only for the UK to see its wettest July on record.

Mr Ring is an Auckland-based professional weather watcher and made his predictions about this summer’s weather on Marian Finucane’s show on RTE Radio 1.

While his novel means of forecasting have been greeted with some scepticism, he was largely on the mark.

“I think I’ve done quite well, or at least the farmers tell me so,” he said. “Of course, weather forecasting is not an exact science and so the best we can come up with are trends that have a few days’ leeway on either side. For instance, I did say summer in Ireland for 2009 was never going to be all that hot – maximum temperatures may not exceed 25 degrees.”

He forecast that many parts of the country would be dry for the first fortnight in June and that temperatures would reach above 20C before the weather turned unsettled for the rest of the month. While there were some heavy periods of rain on June 6, 12 and 13, he was largely correct and temperatures did reach a high of 27C.


Ken predicted that July would be a mainly wet month, although parts of the north, west and east would experience dry conditions from July 12 to 17.

And so it came to pass, with Met Eireann saying it was the wettest July for over half-a- century for many parts of the country.

His forecast that August would be another wet month has proven largely correct.

Ken stands by his prediction, made months ago, that September would be the “warmest and most summery month”.

Meanwhile, Met Eireann meteorologist Joan Blackburn said more orthodox long-term forecasting, such as that used by the UK Met Office, was still in its infancy.

“If it could be done with a degree of accuracy that would be invaluable, but it’s not happening at the moment,” she said.

What Ken said:

June: Many areas will be dry for the first half and temperatures will be above 20C, unsettled for the second half.

July: Mainly wet month for all. Parts of the north, west and east will have chances of dry days only between July 12 and 17.

August: A wet month for all. The east has a chance of dry windows from August 4 to 9 and 21 to 25. The south will see some sun from 25 to 30.

What happened:

June: First week was largely dry and sunny with temperatures well above normal. Second week was cool and windy with occasionally heavy rain. Rest of the month was unsettled with showers and some thundery downpours.

July: Wettest July for over 50 years in many places. Very wet at some weather stations in the east and west on July 13 and 14, but July 12, 15, 16 and 17 saw practically no rain.

August: Started out very wet, particularly in the south. Almost a perfect score for August 4 to 9 in the east.