Saturday 20 July 2019

Meet RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly - the 'face' of Hurricane Ophelia

RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly
RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly
RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

It's been just one year since we were first introduced to meteorologist Joanna Donnelly on our screens.

Unlike weather presenters before her, Joanna has been given the chance of a lifetime for a meteorologist - a notable storm. Over the last 24 hours, she has become the face of Storm Ophelia, issuing due warnings to people around the country, urging them to batten down the hatches and take it seriously.

Alongside her colleague Evelyn Cusack, who, on Sunday morning was holding a press conference emphasising the impact to come, Donnelly has been putting in overtime on the RTE airwaves. Her Twitter page is filled up with live updates and she has introduced new words to our vocabulary like "sting jet", "jet stream" and "ex-hurricane".

The mother-of-three has been working as a meteorologist for the last 14 years, but go the call for the nightly news in 2016, which she began training for a year in advance. Donnelly, from Dublin's Portmarnock, said she was "looking for a change" when a gap appeared on the TV weather roster.

"RTE approved it and I got my moment on TV, so the team seem happy with me and it seems the public are happy so the rest is out of my control. We will see what happens. The shifts are longer on TV and it's weird - there is this adrenalin that you get out of TV, which you don't get from radio, so it takes a while to come down from that. It has been an eye opener, but I am a meteorologist so I am still forecasting the weather," she said after her small screen debut.

Ireland's rather unique affection for weather presenters shows no sign of waning and the fact that Joanna has used her profile to promote personal, important causes has only earned her more kudos. She is married to Harm Luijkx, a Met Eireann forecaster and they are "knee deep in weather" as she says.

They have three children together Nicky (13), Tobias (nine) and Casper (seven), but they have been especially couple have been vocal about their struggles with fertility and Joanna had six miscarriages after the birth of her eldest daughter and after three rounds of IVF, they happily welcomed their second son Tobias.

Afterwards, she set up her own charity Pomegranate with her friend Fiona McPhillips after they both experienced difficulties in becoming pregnant and they've proudly helped a number of couples welcome babies since its establishment.

"My middle child was IVF. Afterwards, I got pregnant naturally and I just thought, 'Well that isn't fair' - there are people in a terrible position of never being able to afford IVF," she said.

"People seem to know that IVF is very expensive and it is, but they often don't realise that the run-up to IVF is also very expensive.

"You don't just wake up one morning and say, 'I am going for IVF; you have all the scans, all the tests, which have usually depleted people's savings before they go anywhere near a private hospital for IVF. I just thought, 'That isn't right,' so we set up Pomegranate."

She told the RTE Guide in another interview: "Thanks to Pomegranate, we have had seven born babies."

Read more: Hurricane Ophelia: Every part of Ireland will bear brunt of Ophelia 'for three hours' - Met Éireann warning

Read more: Hurricane Ophelia: Latest updates as worst storm to hit Ireland in more than 50 years lands

Read more: Insurance Explainer: Storm damage, driving during red weather warnings - am I covered?

Read more: Watch: 'They know something big is coming' - Eerie footage shows crows fleeing as Ophelia hits Cork

Read more: Full list of businesses and public services closed today amid Hurricane Ophelia public safety concerns

Read more: Ophelia Nationwide: 'The sky has gone completely dark, it's quite scary' - Here is the latest from your region

Read more: Meet RTE weather presenter Joanna Donnelly - the 'face' of Hurricane Ophelia


How is Ophelia affecting you today? Send your comments and pictures to, if it is safe to do so. 

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