After 42 years of dedicated service, Evelyn Cusack has announced her retirement from Met Eireann. Evelyn is a well-known figure to many Irish viewers, having presented weather bulletins on RTE for 30 years. She was promoted to the role of head of Met Eireann in March 2018. Evelyn has confirmed that today will be her final day in the position.
Evelyn studied Maths and Physics at UCD and landed a job with Met Eireann in 1981 after graduating from university. Her first appearance on RTE doing the weather forecast was in 1988, and she remained on the channel for 30 years. During her career, she covered several weather events such as Hurricane Ophelia in 2017, followed by Storm Emma and the Beast from the East.
Reflecting on her career, Evelyn reminisced about how at the start of her career, there were no satellites or internet to help forecasters predict the weather. She said: “We used to get charts on electrostatic paper, and it would take half an hour for a few charts to come in.”
Evelyn was promoted to Head of Forecasting in 2017, and she remembered a very busy first year in the position with the arrival of Storm Ophelia and the Beast from the East. Evelyn referred to that time as her “annus horribilis of weather”, using the famous phrase Queen Elizabeth II included in her 1992 speech following a challenging year for the British royal family.
In 2017, Ireland was hit by two major storms, Storm Ophelia which was later followed months later by Storm Emma. The entire country was then shut down after heavy snowfall arrived which was brought on by the Beast from the East. Evelyn recalled how she had to call to recommend cancelling the National Ploughing Championships. “It seemed like an enormous thing to do. I mean, I closed it down. Obviously you don’t want anyone hurt or houses knocked down, but you want your forecast to be right and to be able to give enough notice that people can take action.”
As she retires today, Met Eireann is launching a new element to its weather app, giving ten-day forecasts for mountain areas. Evelyn is positive that AI could be a valuable tool for assisting weather forecasters. She told RTE that she is excited to see Met Eireann get involved in the “next weather revolution” of Artificial Intelligence (AI), with the national forecaster putting in a professorship in a university.
Social media users, including Evelyn’s RTE colleagues, have flocked to Twitter to wish her well in her retirement. RTE journalist Ciaran Mullooly wrote: “A fabulous professional and a great lady to work with – especially when we were all in ‘catastrophe’ mode on @rtenews! Enjoy your retirement, Evelyn & looking forward to seeing you more back in the midland heartlands from now on.”
A second person said: “A well-earned retirement!” A third added: “Have a lovely retirement, Evelyn – you will be missed!”
Evelyn has had a long and illustrious career, and her contributions to the field of weather forecasting in Ireland have been invaluable. We wish her all the best in her retirement and look forward to seeing what the future holds for Met Eireann with the introduction of AI and other technological advancements.