Battle on the forecast front

By Catherine Masters

Philip Duncan, 33, former radio ad-man and self-styled 'weather analyst', set up the WeatherWatch website. Photo / Richard Robinson
Philip Duncan, 33, former radio ad-man and self-styled 'weather analyst', set up the WeatherWatch website. Photo / Richard Robinson

In the end, boisterous Auckland weatherman Philip Duncan gave in gracefully - thanks MetService, he wrote on Facebook, for your early and accurate snowstorm forecast.

Credit where credit's due, he said: "They nailed this one from a warning perspective."

Duncan, a self-trained weather "analyst", likes to be first with the weather and is fond of deluging news offices with emails announcing predictions, sometimes claiming exclusivity and sometimes having a dig at MetService, the state forecaster.

But whereas he held back snow warnings until the Friday before the storm, MetService was warning of snow on the Wednesday.

It was spot on and able to present its new weather face, former BBC weatherman Daniel Corbett.

MetService says hiring Corbett has nothing to do with Duncan's rising popularity as a forecaster - they just needed someone special to fill big shoes when weather ambassador Bob McDavitt retires in February.

During the snow, Corbett popped up all over the place, including TV One's Close Up and Breakfast, where he was able to demonstrate the British style that led to the creation of a Dan Corbett Appreciation Society page on Facebook.

Petra Bagust asked him to explain polar outbreaks and his reply included treacle and bicycle spokes.

"Think of it like having a layer of treacle that sits at the top of the poles and somebody just gives it a bit of a nudge and it just starts to ooze but in this case instead of oozing it's just gone brrr [hand gesture] straight across much of New Zealand and with it as well we're getting these little surges of moisture that are coming through and they're the surges of moisture almost like spokes on a bicycle wheel that'll be the areas of snow and many people ..."

He told the Weekend Herald it is important to explain the weather in a way people can understand so he uses analogies to create a picture in people's minds.

Corbett has been a meteorologist for 20 years, having qualified at the State University of New York then working as a private weather forecaster, including forecasting for oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico when hurricanes were approaching.

He then got into television, on stations across America, and worked in the notorious "Tornado Alley", where he would warn the viewers to "literally, take cover, because they were just such mean, menacing storms".

Philip Duncan, who writes about weather for the Herald Online, says one of the main reasons he set up WeatherWatch was to communicate the weather in a way scientists often couldn't, so he thinks Corbett is a good addition to MetService, bringing some vibrancy.

"He seems enthusiastic about the weather, which is great. That's what you want. You want people to explain the weather with passion and excitement but not over the top. I think he does a good job."

- NZ Herald

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