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New radar to enhance weather forecasting

30 May 2008
Media Statement

New radar to enhance weather forecasting

A newly installed MetService radar at New Plymouth airport will greatly enhance weather forecasting in the region, says Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven.

The installation is the latest addition to a national network of new generation radars already up and running near Walkworth, Wellington, Rakaia and Invercargill. The radars represent a significant investment in enhancing weather forecasting capability for the protection of New Zealanders.

At the opening ceremony in New Plymouth today Mr Duynhoven, himself a Taranaki resident, said the new radar would enable the MetService to provide detailed, real time information showing the extent, intensity and movement of rain areas.

The weather radar will also detect and estimate snow levels, as well as indicate the location of smaller scale thunderstorms within rain bands which are likely to produce localised areas of intense rainfall.

Mr Duynhoven said analysis of information captured by the radar could be fed to forecasters, hydrologists and emergency managers who could monitor the duration and location of heavy rain.

Data from the weather radar could also be fed into flood prediction models, providing much better information on areas likely to be at risk of flooding.

“Being better prepared to face such weather is a key benefit of this radar installation – it will enable early action to be taken, which can potentially save millions in economic and social costs,” said Mr Duynhoven.

Mr Duynhoven announced that in addition to two further radars already planned for the Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay region and the Bay of Plenty, the recent budget provided for yet another two radars, to be located on the West Coast and in Northland. The new radar in Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay should be operating in about a year’s time and in the Bay of Plenty within two years.

Metservice is a State Owned Enterprise. The Government contributes approximately $17 million a year towards the operation of the service. As part of Budget 2008 MetService received an additional $4.8 million in funding over the next four years to provide effective severe convection warning services for all areas within 150 kilometres of weather radar sites.


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