I’ve been watching “Today’s weather highlights” on One News for the past month or so and have noticed a pattern. Quite often the nation’s most extreme weather is in an area that doesn’t affect the every day kiwi. Places like Mid Dome, Milford, Castlepoint, Brothers Island, Tara Hills, Nugget Point, Takapau Plains, Mt Kaukau, Le Bons Bay and Pusegur Point. Now while these places might be well known to the few people who live there or nearby I bet most of us would struggle to find them on a map…well…unless you went to the glossary, then I guess it would be easy.
The world’s most extreme weather often takes place in areas where no one lives… or rather, no one lives where extreme weather most often happens! For example, I was looking at the weather forecast for the world’s northern most airport – Alert, in Canada (don’t ask why I was looking… lets just say I don’t have much on my social calendar this week!). This small town with just a handful of government employees, is located at the north eastern tip of Canada well inside the arctic circle. Their HIGH, without windchill, was -40 degrees today! Add windchill and you could be looking at -65. You’d be dead within a couple minutes exposed to that.
Back in New Zealand (and in fact most places in the world) when it comes to our daily temperatures most readings are taken from airports – exposed areas of land often near water. When we hear that Napier had the nation’s high of 31 degrees it was really the airport that reached that…it was probably 34 in town…maybe even hotter in the central city with all the tar seal and concrete. Similar with strong winds… those who work in Auckland or Wellington will know that a forecast that calls for “light winds” can mean “blustery winds” in the CBD thanks to all the high rise buildings.
So what’s my point here? Well, my plan is that as we grow our Weather Watch Centre across New Zealand we’re going to install more weather stations and place them where YOU live. Our goal isn’t to provide scientific data for the government, our goal is to provide you with the current and relevant weather observations from where you’re living or working…completely exclusive to our stations. I’d rather know that Auckland’s strongest wind gust today was 100km/h on Hobson Street – not 105km/h on Bean Rock (a weather station placed on a lighthouse out on the water). I’d also rather not have every rain warning issued for Fiordland (which is a rain forest!!) making the news each day…sure we have to promote it, but save the headlines for relevant weather – this is more important: “how much of that Fiordland rain will make it to drought stricken farmers?” – that is what sets our Weather Watch Centre apart from the rest…and we’ll give you that information. And if you can’t find it, we’re only an email away!
By the way – it’s great to see One News also seeing the importance of weather by increasing their weather coverage during the 6pm news hour. For too long New Zealand’s weather coverage, on both radio and TV, has been poor compared to other countries – just the same old same old – but all of that is starting to change. It’s why we’ve been adding the “Wind Chill” and “Humidex” temperatures to some of our forecasts across the country – so that we’re reflecting what you are really feeling.