Aemet replies: "With the same maps we would issue the same red alert again"

It's not the same.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
05 September 2023 Tuesday 11:14
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Aemet replies: "With the same maps we would issue the same red alert again"

It's not the same. The repeated complaint against the weatherman in an elevator or bar for a wrong forecast can never be compared to the blatant criticism of an entire state weather agency by the political class for not having "tuned it up". in a prediction. The first case is the daily bread: the second, for many, a "recklessness" or an "institutional disloyalty". It has happened with the last DANA and Aemet is now responding to the criticism launched from the political sphere, for not having fulfilled its predictions in the center of the city of Madrid. "With the same maps we would do the same thing again", says the spokesperson of the State Meteorological Agency, Rubén del Campo.

Juanma Moreno, president of Andalusia, and the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, prominent leaders of the PP, did not bite their tongues on Sunday and Monday, charging against Aemet for considering that it had gone beyond stopped with the alerts, which turned on the red traffic lights for seven hours in the capital of Spain. Almeida, surely overwhelmed by the criticism received for these words, wanted to clarify yesterday that what he did was "reflect" and not "criticize".

How is Aemet painting this political storm that is coming to a close? Rubén del Campo starts from a premise that should never be lost sight of: "It's not an exact science", he says. But it is becoming more and more accurate, he adds, after revealing that since 2006 "up to eight versions have been written, with modifications to the protocols used to inform the alerts to win in rigor".

The Aemet spokesperson adds that the criticisms "are our particular bad reputation; it is inherent in our profession and the best way to defend ourselves is to be very didactic when explaining our work". Having said that, the Aemet spokesman is categorical, reiterating that, if tomorrow the weather maps show the same situation as Sunday for the center of Madrid, "from the agency we would set the same alerts again". It is admitted that the more than 120 liters per square meter in less than 12 hours predicted for this area where five million people live did not fall because the DANA changed its trajectory at the last moment. "But this does not mean that the announcement due to the risk of torrential rains was wrong", insists Rubén del Campo.

Aemet has - this goes for those who have criticized him - a very clear premise: "We prefer to talk, as we do now, about something that could have been and did not happen, than to have to give explanations for something that it was not foreseen and it has happened", says Del Campo.

And the warnings by SMS on the phones recommending to the people of Madrid to stay at home? The Aemet spokesperson responds, in this case, with another question: "And if thanks to this alarm, the lives of people have been saved, mainly in the west of Madrid, who locked themselves in their homes or among the citizens who had scheduled to circulate at those hours in this community and did the plans change?". We'll never know, but it doesn't seem far-fetched to think so.

Of all the controversy generated by this issue, which was still simmering yesterday, Del Campo remains, more than the critics, "with the hundreds of shows of support, both from the political sphere and among citizens". Aemet is thanked for these messages. "We also feel accompanied". It shows that there is also understanding with the difficulty of a job "in which absolute certainty, unfortunately, does not yet exist".

The agency's spokesperson strives to be as didactic as possible, aware that this is the only way to understand the responsibility of his work - Aemet's alerts can save lives - and the complexity of their application. He affirms that nothing is improvised from Aemet nor are non-existent alerts invented. "The protocols are very clear and oblige us to decree the level of alert (yellow, orange or red) depending on what the maps tell us", he emphasizes. And the forecast for Sunday afternoon in the center of Madrid "required a red alert", he repeats. The predicted rain only moved a few kilometers. There is therefore no feeling of having made a mistake.