The Taieri and other flood-prone catchments are at risk
by not having an effective rain warning system, Dunedin City
councillor and Middlemarch farmer Kate Wilson says.
Rain radars provide up to 90 minutes' notice of severe
thunderstorms, detect pockets of heavy rain and produce
high-resolution rainfall analyses for flood and catchment
The closest radars are in Invercargill and Rakaia,
Without radar, forecasters have less comprehensive
information about approaching rainstorms than they do in
Cr Wilson said from a farmer's perspective, let alone a civil
defence one, it was frustrating not to have more certainty
about rainfall predictions.
''Certain areas do not get a lot of notice.''
Given the technology was available, the risk factor and the
economic benefit of having more detailed rainfall
information, Dunedin and Otago should have a radar, she said.
''Our Government should fund one, as that is what it does in
other areas,'' she said.
Cr Wilson had raised the issue at a recent members of
Parliament forum and would be calling on community boards and
other Otago councils to write in support of a radar.
''It's bizarre we do not have one in such a highly populated
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said he
supported the push as a rain radar would be very helpful,
particularly in short catchments such as the Silverstream, on
the Taieri, and the Water of Leith in Dunedin.
''These can quickly flood with not much time to react.''
That meant regional council staff and the community had
little time to warn or plan for major events.
''It would be extremely helpful for our work with hazards and
A MetService spokeswoman said the only reason a radar had not
been installed was the cost. MetService had a commercial
contract with the Ministry of Transport and a radar for Otago
was included in the weather service's 2012 and 2009 proposals
''MetService ... is very supportive of the provision of
severe weather warnings for Otago as a high priority
A weather radar covering Dunedin city and Otago was likely to
cost about $2.5 million to $3 million and take up to two
years to establish.
Another option, for about a quarter of the cost, could be to
move the Invercargill radar at the end of next year when it
became surplus to balloon-tracking requirements, but it would
be an older technology solution without dual-polarisation
capability, she said.
National list MP Michael Woodhouse, of Dunedin, said what was
important was not where the rain radar was located but
whether the area was getting accurate information from it.
''I'm not aware that there is any problem with the
information we are currently receiving.''
A Ministry of Transport spokesman said prioritisation of the
rain radar's implementation was ultimately MetService's
decision. It had installed five in the North Island in the
past few years.
The global financial crisis meant MetService's funding was
frozen for three years due to the Government's expectation of
In the last Budget, MetService received an extra $1.2
million, bringing its contract to $20.1 million.
''The one-off additional payment was made on the
understanding that MetService is currently renegotiating its
contract to provide forecasting services.''
Dunedin Labour MP Clare Curran said she was astounded the
cost of a radar had been the casualty of the Government's
funding freeze which had yet again left Otago ill-served.
Additional weather radars
• Taranaki 2007-08
• BoP 2009-10
• West Coast 2011-12
• Far North 2012-13
Source: Ministry of Transport