It’s been a long time coming, but Alexandra is to have its own comprehensive weather station installed next year – more than two and a-half years after the proposal was first put on the table.
Niwa environmental monitoring technician Neil Blair presented the idea to the Vincent Community Board in June 2015, saying Alexandra met the key design criteria in terms of its unique climate and proximity to primary industry.
The board supported the proposal to have the station installed at a site near Orchard Dr and Niwa received funding for the station.
Niwa has been negotiating an easement with Land Information New Zealand over the land, which is due to be signed off in the coming weeks.
Niwa principal climate technician Andrew Harper said the site near Orchard Dr was chosen as it was likely to remain in the open, ensuring the site was not affected by microclimates that could occur in built-up areas.
“It took us quite a while to find a suitable location.
“Long term, we’ve been told it’s not going to get built out because it’s down on the river flood plains.
“It’s really that longevity – towns are growing rapidly all the time.
“The beauty of this is to try and get it somewhere that’s going to be long term, but then also closer to the town.”
The station would be in a 20sqm fenced area and would be similar to stations in Clyde, Lauder and Cromwell.
Temperature, wind, rainfall, soil temperatures, pressure and solar radiation would all be recorded at the new station.
A fish-eye camera pointed at the sky would capture any outside influences that might disrupt measurements.
Mr Harper said the station would complement recordings taken in Marslin St, Pioneer Park and at the MetService station at the Alexandra airport.
“What we’re not looking to do is replace the manual readings, and we’re also not looking to replace any of the other sites.
“But the benefits of putting this one in will be that it will be in downtown Alex and it’ll be able to get real-time data.
“It’s actually going to be a more complete station and it will be providing a lot more information, also at a greater frequency as well.”
Data would be uploaded to the National Climate Database and used for modelling and forecasting, and designing flood systems and other engineering work that required meteorological parameters, he said.
The data also had the potential to be used for international models but that would be discussed in the future, he said.
At their June 2015 meeting, Vincent Community Board members raised concerns that temperatures recorded at the airport did not match those in the town.
Mr Harper said the difference in altitude could have an effect in certain circumstances.
“On a day-to-day basis there will be differences but over the long term I wouldn’t think there’d be massive differences in that.
“It’s a comment we get at a lot of places. ‘Why are you doing it at the airport? Why aren’t you doing it in the middle of towns?’
“One of the things we are trying to do is get them closer to town but also still retain that openness.”