Hot under the collar over city temperatures

Dunedin weather enthusiast Don Nash says the city is getting a raw deal from official temperature...
Dunedin weather enthusiast Don Nash says the city is getting a raw deal from official temperature readings well below his own. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A Dunedin weather enthusiast says the city gets a raw deal from its official temperature readings - and he has the temperature gauges to prove it.

Don Nash, of Mt Mera, North Dunedin, said he was among those angry official temperature readings showed Dunedin's temperature reached only 21degC on Christmas Day.

Mr Nash said his three temperature gauges hit 29degC at 11am the same day, and at 5pm the mercury was still hovering at 27degC.

The same happened on Thursday, when his gauges hit 22degC while the official temperature reading only reached 15degC.

The pattern was repeated on Friday when his gauges showed 20degC at 1.15pm, while a Dunedin radio station was busy telling listeners it was 15degC, he said.

Mr Nash admitted he lived in a microclimate, but said debate over the accuracy of the city's official temperatures had rumbled on for ''many, many years''.

It was time something was done, and he believed the Dunedin City Council should invest in new temperature gauges at sites around the city.

The Dunedin Botanic Garden could be one, with other sites in Northeast Valley and Maori Hill, he suggested.

The average temperature could then be taken from all of them, providing a more accurate picture, he said.

''People from the North Island run us down all the time ... it's misrepresentation really, in my book, and I think Dunedin deserves a bit of credit.

''It's not right.''

The city has three official weather stations - one on top of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in the Octagon, a Niwa-run one at Musselburgh and one at Dunedin International Airport.

The gallery site, funded by the city council but run by the MetService, was installed in 2006 to supply temperature readings for the council website and television news instead of the Musselburgh site, which had generally been thought to be in one of the coolest parts of the city.

MetService forecaster John Law last week told the Otago Daily Times the site was chosen because it was considered more representative of the central city and its weather.

''Ideally, we'd like more of them [weather stations] but the cost involved keeping the records meant it's not possible.

''It is completely likely there were higher temperatures - it all depends on exposure and wind direction.''

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said last week it was likely a light breeze made for cooler temperatures in the Octagon site than at Musselburgh. Sea breezes which affected parts of the city meant those areas were usually cooler than sheltered suburbs, which would have recorded 25degC to 27degC on Christmas Day, he said.

Council spokeswoman Hannah Molloy said she was not aware of any budget for new weather stations, but Mr Nash could make a submission to the council's annual plan budget hearings.

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