Weather radar to be installed at Hindon

A MetService weather radar, similar to this one in Northland, will be built near Dunedin next year. Photo: MetService
A MetService weather radar, similar to this one in Northland, will be built near Dunedin next year. Photo: MetService
Coastal Otago will be better equipped to act during floods with the arrival of a long-awaited $2.8 million weather radar.

MetService confirmed yesterday it had this week signed an agreement with a Hindon landowner and hoped to begin construction of the device at the site in February next year.

It planned to have the station operational by May.

MetService meteorological data services manager Kevin Alder said the device generally had a 250km radius, although this could be blocked by terrain.

A location near the Taieri Plain was chosen as the area was particularly flood-prone.

It would also cover Dunedin city and could potentially reach as far north as Timaru, south through the Catlins, and into parts of Central Otago.

It would be used for monitoring severe weather events such as flooding, the timing of southerly changes, snow and thunderstorms.

It could determine the type of precipitation likely to fall and would also provide radar imagery to be uploaded to its website every 7.5 minutes.

''That can be very useful for event planning.''

Dunedin has been partly covered by radars in Southland and Canterbury, but there have been calls since 2008 for the area to have its own.

In 2017 MetService said it expected to be able to start construction of a radar for the area in 2018.

However, there were issues negotiating with landowners who later sold their land.

After flooding in Dunedin in November, which hit the Taieri hard and isolated the settlement of Henley, Otago Regional Council operations general manager Gavin Palmer said the absence of a rain radar could impact public safety.

Yesterday Dr Palmer said he ''welcomed'' its arrival.

''The radar will improve the ability to understand weather systems affecting Otago, and enable ORC and communities to make better-informed decisions during heavy rainfall events.''

In a statement, Emergency Management Otago director Chris Hawker said the radar would be of ''significant benefit''.

''The accuracy of the information we receive from MetService is critical to effective decision-making during times when our communities are at risk.''

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies said better forecasting was always good for farming.

''Getting more warning, whether good or bad, is a real benefit.''

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the radar was a really important facility for Coastal Otago, especially given adverse weather events were predicted to become more frequent and intense as a result of a changing climate.

It is the tenth such radar to be installed in the country.

In the South Island there are stations in Invercargill, Rakaia and Hokitika as well as one near Wellington which covers the northern South Island.

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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