Airport firm building weather station to help assess area

A new weather station in Central Otago will help determine whether the controversial international airport at Tarras will fly.

Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) began the first phase of its work to build the new automatic weather station last week.

It is needed as part of the airport’s research into whether it could establish a future airport in Central Otago.

Niwa has an automatic weather station at Wanaka Airport, a Fire and Emergency building at Hawea and another in central Wanaka in Golfcourse Rd.

The airport’s installation at Tarras comprises three solar-powered anemometers which will measure the area’s wind speed and direction in real time.

Once operational, the weather station will also measure air pressure, temperature, humidity, rainfall, cloud cover and visibility.

Its ceilometer will be able to measure up to three layers of cloud and its high-resolution rain gauge will measure precipitation to within a tenth of a millimetre.

The three masts will sit on concrete pads and be fenced off from stock.

Two masts (10m and 18m high) are on CIAL’s land and the third (10m high) is on a neighbouring farm.

In a statement the airport said the technology would help inform its project, update data provided in a preliminary aeronautical assessment last year and assist with analysing runway options.

It hopes to establish its preferred alignment by the end of this year. An environmental study has also commenced.

A decision whether to proceed with an airport is not expected until the end of next year.

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