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Sunburn warnings in Ireland - more amusing than useful

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Ireland's weather has been miserable for weeks.
Sunday we got a sunburn warning.
{Photo from Google images}
Late Saturday night Ireland's national weather service, Met Eireann, issued the following warning: "Sunburn index for Sunday. High countrywide." As soon as I read that I re-read Met Eireann's forecast for Sunday and I smiled.

The forecast for Sunday called for "a bright day with sunny spells. Many places dry, but there will be some well scattered showers. Highs 16-19 or possibly 20C." You can read that as 'Highs 61-66 or possibly 68.' We got a sunburn warning for a day where the temperature wasn't expected to reach 70F. Nor were we expecting hours of unbroken sun. We were going to have "sunny spells."

Now I know sunburn is a serious business and we all have to be "sun aware," but I couldn't help thinking that only in Ireland would you get a sun warning for a day with such a forecast.

The day unfolded almost exactly as Met Eireann forecast. We had "sunny spells." We also had lengthy cloudy spells, a brief shower and our temperature probably reached 65F. I didn't spend all day outside, but while I was out I thought it was very pleasant, but at no time did it occur to me that I might be at risk of a serious sunburn.
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The thought that my pasty white face and arms (I wore shortsleeves) might acquire a slightly pinker hue was about all I imagined, although at one point while I was out walking the wind kicked up and I thought I might get a bit of windburn.

Don't get me wrong. I don't blame Met Eireann for cautioning us. Ever since we had a great week in late March the weather has been so cool, damp and dark that people around here are starting to resemble the mole people from "Beneath the Planet of the Apes." And Met Eireann knows only too well that at the first hint of sun many Irish people strip down to the bear minimum in order to soak up as much sun as they can, safely or not. 'No problem, just use a little sunscreen,' is all Met Eireann is saying.

Which reminds me, when did sunscreen become medicine? Until I read the story of young Violet Michener of Tacoma, WA and the sunburn she got on a field day with her school I never knew that sunscreen was medicine.

All states, other than California, bar the use of sunscreen in school by children because "the creams are considered an over-the-counter drug." What? Is there really any sense to this? Do sunscreens pose such a threat or is this just more over-bearing statist nonsense?

It's not against the law in Ireland, which is a good thing because if school kids are having a day out and it's sunny there's a good chance that it could be the children's first sighting of the sun in weeks. Unlike when I was growing up in upstate New York, kids here often don't get gradually browner as spring turns to summer.

Summer can be delayed by weeks and then just erupt, as it seems to have done today. Even Met Eireann was caught off guard. They forgot to issue a sunburn warning last night.

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