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World Meteological Day and NZ's role with WMO

MetService News Release
Friday, 22 Mar 2013

World Meteological Day and New Zealand's role with WMO

World Meteorological Day is celebrated every year on the 23rd of March,marking the anniversary of the formation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950. The WMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations that brings together national meteorological and hydrological services around the globe. 191 Member States and Territories belong to WMO with its newest member, South Sudan, joining in December 2012.

New Zealand is represented at the WMO by Peter Lennox, the Chief Executive of MetService. As Permanent Representative (PR) with WMO, Mr Lennox is New Zealand's single point of contact with whom the WMO Secretariat in Geneva stays in touch regarding weather, hydrology or climate related matters. In New Zealand the PR is responsible not just for MetService participation in WMO programmes and activities, but also for coordinating WMO matters with other New Zealand organisations such as the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

New Zealand plays a key role in contributing to the WMO Voluntary Cooperation Programme, through MetService's support of Pacific Island meteorological programmes. Twelve MetService staff are directly involved with WMO matters such as this, in addition to their other duties.

MetService operates in accordance with WMO requirements, including investing in specifications and training required to meet WMO standards and certification. This includes generating New Zealand's own pool of meteorological talent. Every 2-3 years MetService runs a 41-week training programme to train mathematics or physics graduates to meet WMO requirements for graduate meteorologists. These graduates become part of MetService's forecasting operations, along with internationally-recruited expertise, to maintain a well-rounded and highly skilled forecasting team.

The title of this year's World Meteorological Day is Watching the weather to protect life and property and focuses attention on the crucial 24/7 role of meteorological and hydrological services in improving human safety and safeguarding society against hazards like floods, tropical cyclones and droughts.

"The growing impact of weather extremes cannot be ignored. Over the last 30 years natural disasters took the lives of over 2 million people and produced economic losses estimated at over 1.5 trillion US dollars," said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. "Almost 90 percent of such disasters, more than 70 percent of the casualties and almost 80 percent of the economic losses were caused by weather-, climate- or water-related hazards."

"Much more must, and can, be done to allay human suffering. Tropical cyclones, heavy rainfalls and floods, droughts and cold and heat waves affect the entire world, alerting us to some of the worst implications of growing climate variability and change," Mr Jarraud said.

"Weather and climate early warnings and disaster risk reduction are central to any sustainable development. World Meteorological Day 2013 is a unique occasion to reinforce this message and to reflect on past achievements,take stock of what still needs to be done and to recommit to building on the legacy of World Weather Watch," he said.

As New Zealand's designated National Meteorological Service with WMO,MetService has clear and considerable responsibilities around the dissemination of accurate and timely weather information to those who need it.

MetService delivers New Zealand's authorised meteorological warning service,issuing Warnings and Watches and Outlooks when severe weather - strong winds, heavy rain, heavy snowfall or thunderstorms - is likely to affect New Zealand. This service is part of the country's National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan. The Severe Weather Team is a group of highly-experienced meteorologists with specialised expertise in dealing with both broad-scale and local-scale severe weather.

For more information about New Zealand's Severe Weather Warning system,see

If there are any Warnings or Watches currently in force across New Zealand,you'll find the details at; to be notified by email whenever warnings are issued, you can also subscribe to receive warnings and watches for your chosen areas straight to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest forecasts and any watches/warnings at or on mobile devices at You can also follow our updates on MetService TV, @metservice on Twitter and at blog.


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