Storm names honour scientists across island of Ireland

Agnes, Fergus and Nicholas are among storm names chosen by Ireland’s national forecaster for the coming autumn and winter period – in honour of “eminent” scientists from across the island.

The new list of names for the 2023/2024 storm season, which is in place from Friday, has been released by meteorological services in Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.

Storms are named when they could have a medium to high impact in Ireland, the UK or the Netherlands in order to make messaging to the public on how to prepare for severe weather easier.

Each service has chosen seven names on the alphabetical list (which excludes the letters q, u, x, y, and z).

Ireland’s Met Eireann has chosen to honour scientists who have made important contributions to science and benefits for humankind with its names.

The list of names chosen by Met Eireann are Agnes, Fergus, Jocelyn, Kathleen, Lilian, Nicholas, and Vincent.

These are after Irish astronomer and science writer Agnes Mary Clerke; scientist Fergus O’Rourke, who provided an authoritative description of Irish ants; Northern Ireland astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered the first pulsating radio stars in 1967; and one of the mothers of computer programming, Kathleen “Kay” McNulty Mauchly Antonelli.

The other names chosen by Met Eireann honour Irish crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale; Anglo-Irish journalist and pioneer aviator Lilian Bland, the first woman in Ireland to build and fly an aircraft; physicist Nicholas Callan, who invented the induction coil that was used in early telegraphy; and Vincent Barry, who is best known for leading the team which developed the anti-leprosy drug clofazimine.

Professor Bell Burnell said: “I am delighted to feature in this distinguished list celebrating science and hope that if a potential Storm Jocelyn happens, it may be a useful stirring-up rather than a destructive event.

“Science advancements increase our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, and I think this is wonderful example of science-based services communications.”

Eoin Sherlock, head of the forecasting division at Met Eireann, said that they were “delighted to celebrate science and scientists” in this season’s list of storm names.

He thanked the public for voting on what name the storm beginning with “A” should represent, resulting in Agnes.

“Our warmest thanks to all who voted and to those who suggested other names that we will keep in mind for future seasons,” he said.

He said storm naming was an “important asset” in making severe weather communications “clearer and more effective”.

He added: “It connects our weather services more closely to the public, helping us in our mission to protect lives and property and ensuring the safety of our communities.”