MetService to upgrade forecast on website

After years of complaints that weather forecasts for the West Coast are putting off visitors, the MetService has confirmed a series of changes intended to narrow down its forecasting.

However, change in television weather forecasts, which are based on the MetService forecast, may be longer coming.

The concern is that the forecasts are too generalised for a diverse region reaching from Haast to Karamea.

The issue was raised again recently by Tourism West Coast regional tourism manager Jim Little.

MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray said yesterday the website, which until now has shown only Greymouth, would be refreshed to show two West Coast locations a "decent distance apart".

Forecasters were also being advised to split the forecast when applicable.

A beta version of the site would be available to the public later this month.

Metservice had invited Tourism West Coast and some groups it suggested to preview the new site and provide feedback on it.

"The refreshed site will see two West Coast locations shown on the home page of metservice.com, with temperatures and an icon to indicate the current weather forecast for these areas. This is a new adaptation to the site, which we hope addresses some concerns. Our focus here will be on showing locations on the Coast that are a decent distance apart," Ms Murray said.

The refreshed site will also list forecasts under the "towns and cities" tab for Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier and Haast.

Where applicable, all town and city locations will have water and land activity tabs that will show the respective marine and mountain forecasts available in those areas from that page.

Franz and Haast are new additions.

MetService would continue to issue two regional forecasts for the West Coast - one for Buller and one for Westland, "with forecasters being advised to split the forecast by landmark when applicable".

Mr Murray said the discussions with Tourism West Coast had been positive.

Asked about television forecasts, Mr Little said he would approach the television channels about their reporting when he returned from China. - Greymouth Star

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