MetService Confirms Weather Radar Site for Otago. Plans to be operable by Winter 2020

Thursday 11 June 2019

This week, MetService signed an agreement that secures a site for a weather radar in the Otago region. 

The agreement, with a Hindon land owner, will allow construction of the radar to commence in the coming summer, with MetService expecting the radar to be operational by May 2020. 

The location, 25 kilometres northwest of Dunedin, provides excellent coverage of Dunedin City, the Taieri and Clutha River catchments, and eastern Otago from the Catlins to the Waitaki. 

The Otago radar will utilise the latest dual-polarisation technologies to distinguish between different types of precipitation such as rain, hail and snow. This, along with precise estimates of accumulated rainfall derived from the radar data, will help forecasters, hydrologists and emergency managers better understand weather impacts on communities, river catchments, and infrastructure. 

MetService’s Manager for Meteorological Data Services, Kevin Alder, explains, “We are delighted to announce that we’ve signed an agreement for this site. Coastal Otago’s complex landscape has made finding a suitable site very challenging, and as a result we’ve reviewed more than 20 potential locations for the radar.”

Alder adds, “We wish to thank all of the Otago landowners whom we’ve worked with over the past few years.”

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says he has kept in regular contact with MetService on this issue and congratulates them on getting the agreement in place. 

“This is a really important facility for the Coastal Otago area, especially given adverse weather events are predicted to become more frequent and intense as a result of a changing climate. The new radar will ensure our Coastal Otago communities are better prepared and in turn more resilient to the effects of adverse weather conditions, particularly flooding events.” 

The Director of Emergency Management Otago, Chris Hawker, welcomed the news that the Otago Radar site had been confirmed.  

“The accuracy of the information we receive from MetService is critical to effective decision-making during times when our communities are at risk, and the new radar will be of significant benefit.”

The radar also provides coverage into Central Otago, although the mountainous terrain means that precipitation falling from lower levels may not be detected in some locations.

Additionally, the radar will allow MetService to provide a severe thunderstorm warning service within the radar coverage area as part of its severe weather warnings and watches programme.

The radar is estimated to cost $2.8 million and will be the tenth in MetService’s national network. MetService is designated as New Zealand’s only severe weather forecasting and warning authority through its contract with the Ministry of Transport, and its weather radar network plays an essential role in the delivery of its public-safety services. All New Zealand radar imagery is updated every 7.5 minutes on and MetService apps.