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Always Take The Weather With You

From 2 March 2021, the Department of Conservation (DOC) is partnering with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to provide an upgraded weather forecasting service using the latest technologies.

With rapid advancement of weather forecasting models and high-performance computers over the last decade, the methods used, and the ways of interpreting weather are constantly evolving. People need robust and accurate data to make informed decisions about venturing into the outdoors.

DOC works to ensure those heading outdoors have the right information to keep themselves safe. A key element is to connect them to timely, accurate weather information so that people going on a day trip or a multi-day tramp, consider the influence of the weather when making decisions about where to go and what to take.

DOC’s website now hosts a link to the updated weather information from NIWA including tailored forecasts for specific locations (49 key DOC sites including National Parks) with potential weather hazards identified such as strong winds, snow, low visibility and variable river flows.

The high-resolution weather modelling around mountainous terrain will give detailed forecasting with higher accuracy.

“Weather on opposite sides of a mountain range can differ radically,” says Steve Taylor, DOC’s Director Heritage and Visitors. “This very localised forecasting will provide accurate predictions to help visitors make informed decisions about just where and when they might do that trip into the hills. For DOC rangers, it will enable them to interpret trends in the weather to help refine their outdoor work schedules.”

DOC’s new official weather website will include video animation for each of the National Parks and a daily video presented by a NIWA Meteorologist.

NIWA Principal Scientist – Forecasting Chris Brandolino says he’s excited by what’s on offer.

“Each location will have a six-day weather overview, hourly and three-hourly weather forecasts, printable forecast info, a park weather video and possible weather hazards. We’ll be working with DOC to continually develop the services.”

“New Zealand’s location as an island nation straddling the sub-tropical and temperate zones, keeps the weather constantly changing from the mountains to the sea. The upgrade to DOC’s weather forecasting service provided by NIWA, will ensure that we have the best information available to manage risks to visitor and to maximise DOC’s time in the field.” says Steve Taylor.

The new NIWA Parks Weather can be viewed at https://weather.niwa.co.nz/parks

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