Confessions of a Weather Nerd

posted on 3rd May 2018 by Caitriona Butler

I am a self-professed weather nerd. And maybe it’s because I grew up in the ‘Sunny South East’ but I have never fully accepted the Irish weather’s tendency towards the wet. It’s not that I’m in denial, my daily commute across Dublin involves at least an hour out in the elements and I think people would be surprised by how infrequently rain affects my journey. I regularly give thanks to the original Dublin settlers who for numerous geographical conveniences chose to make their home in the rain-shadow of the Dublin & Wicklow mountains.

See that Dublin-shaped hole in the clouds? It happens more frequently than you might think.

 

However, one of the joys of the Irish climate is its unpredictability and the fact that you never really know when you’re going to get soaked by a passing shower. This combination of nerdishness and necessity has led to a reliant relationship with the Met Eireann Irish weather website so it was with some excitement that I launched my web browser one morning last month to find a completely redesigned site.

This is a redesign that was seriously overdue. In these days of responsive web design, the Met Eireann site had lagged behind with a separate, functionally limited m-dot site as its mobile offering. This redesign has now properly addressed the smaller screen experience. Taking a quick look under the hood I can see that their front-end design framework sits on top of Bootstrap which is popular among web agencies for developing responsive, mobile-first projects on the web. That the Met Eireann mobile experience has jumped from a creaking m-dot to a mobile-first design is fantastic news for the site’s mobile users.

Doing a little bit more digging, it looks like the site has also gone through a complete re-platform. On the backend it has moved away from virtually-antique ASP page technology to the modern open-source Laravel framework and it is now utilising one of the latest, hottest javascript framework Vue.js for interactions on the front end. This can only be a good thing for the site’s performance, security and reliability and I imagine it has also made the job of the site’s content managers significantly easier.

Detail from the snazzy new Met Eireann website.

Of course given the dear place that weather holds in the heart of the Irish people, a major overhaul to the website of the official weather forecasting service is not going to pass unnoticed and this redesign initially came under fire from some critical corners of the web. I am hoping that the critics will give Met Eireann a little time to iron out any issues. I also hope that Met Eireann will listen to constructive criticism and take time to iterate on the design to make the site the most user-friendly it can be for the weather-obsessed population of this rain-frequented island.

Caitriona Butler, Web Developer.
When not digging through the source code of newly launched websites, Caitriona can be found crafting robust and effective responsive web sites across a broad range of programming languages & technologies and occasionally checking met.ie to see if there’ll be rain for her Dublin commute home.