Back in late Autumn, in May, WeatherWatch.co.nz told the Ministry for Primary Industries the ‘autumn or spring-like pattern of westerlies’ for Canterbury would continue well into winter, meaning we went on the record to disagree with NIWA’s wet outlook for Canterbury.
Now in winter’s final month NIWA has changed their forecast for the drought hit region, removing their wetter than average forecast and replacing it with the same one WeatherWatch.co.nz has had since Autumn – that a drier than average outlook is likely.
NIWA has also admitted that even if normal rainfall arrives, soil moisture levels will remain below average – simply because the region has been in deficit for so long.
The news will be disappointing for farmers and growers needing rain, who were banking that NIWA’s wet outlook was based on their special super computer that they don’t make public.
Despite the ongoing historical drought in Canterbury NIWA predicted two months ago Canterbury’s rain will be “where it should be, or greater than it should be” this winter. Last month a NIWA forecaster went out of his way to say “…in other words, another way of looking at it, a drier than usual winter seems pretty unlikely [in Canterbury]”.
NIWA receives 100 million dollars a year in tax funding and is now directly competing with MetService – which is leading the Government to an official investigation, as NIWA’s focus appears to be more about being aggressively commercial than providing services for the public.
Last month WeatherWatch.co.nz received a legal threat from NIWA for being transparent and highlighting that their soil moisture maps did not match up with their forecasts. Editors from major news outlets have told WeatherWatch.co.nz they would “laugh” if a Government Agency tried to dictate what was and was not newsworthy – especially when trying to bring accountability and transparency. So far the Minister has also avoided supporting the legal threat. In fact, NIWA has actively ignored Ministerial requests for NIWA to work with WeatherWatch.co.nz in the past few weeks – highlighting how commercially aggressive NIWA is becoming these days.
– Image / NIWA’s soil moisture anomaly map shows how the westerly flow is keeping the east dry / NIWA / NZ taxpayer
on 1/08/2016 11:46am
Even as an outsider you know it’s gone balls up when you get two government funded organisations both forecasting weather, money down the drain there. BoM in Aus us slick in comparison.
on 31/07/2016 11:52pm
Why are we wasting this amount of money, sure that could go else where and be funded to local weather organisations. Sounds like robbery to me there has to be greater accountability from the head of government to justify spending of tax payers dollars each year a independent review.
on 1/08/2016 12:46am
The CEO of NIWA, John Morgan, earns 620K a year as a public servant (more than the Prime Minister!) and he and NIWA “refused” under Official Information Act request to deny if he personally is rewarded for blocking tax funded public data from farmers and small businesses. Their non-answer helped prompt the Government to launch an investigation as NIWA is supposed to be a Crown Research Institute not a Crown Revenue Institute.
on 1/08/2016 2:53am
That is staggering quite frankly!
I hate to think what the whole organsation costs per annum. All I can say is, whatever the sum we don’t receive value for money. Their predictions are meaningless
on 1/08/2016 3:59am
Hi Dave, it’s a total shame NZ has this current set up, as all the focus from the CEOs of both NIWA and MetService is how to make additional income, rather than what more could they do for the people of New Zealand using the current taxes. We desperately want to work positively with them – but their aggressive commercial nature needs to be focused at the international market, not at the tax payers who fund them here at home in New Zealand. No other western country does it this way. WeatherWatch is fighting for New Zealand’s weather industry to be part of an International standard, not a ‘Wellington standard’ that sees one Government agency using tax dollars to compete with another tax funded agency in the exact same space.