Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Rain monitoring will help Civil Defence lessen tropical storm risks

Cyclone Wilma wreaked havoc last year. Photo / APN
Cyclone Wilma wreaked havoc last year. Photo / APN

Rain monitoring will help Civil Defence lessen tropical storm risks

Auckland Civil Defence is using MetService near real-time map images of rainfall accumulations across the region to improve its response to tropical cyclones.

The images are based on information gained from Auckland Council's rain gauges and MetService's rain radar network for the previous hour.

This compares with waiting a day or two for both sets of information to be collated and interpreted - usually after the weather event has struck and moved out to sea.

This has been the case in New Zealand and overseas before the new storm monitor technology went on trial in Auckland.

Hurricane Sandy's devastation on the east coast of the United States was a reminder of how vulnerable coastal cities could be, said Auckland Civil Defence controller Clive Manley.

With 1500km of coastline, Auckland was at risk of the effects of tropical cyclones and storms.

Although yet to be tested by a large storm, the monitoring technology could dramatically improve response efforts and allow the region to be better prepared.

Mr Manley said being able to pinpoint the density of cloud and how much rain had fallen - within the hour - would enable the agency to move its resources into a particular place and tell residents to prepare for a flood.

Presently, the agency relied on the residents to tell it what happened and advice from MetService on generally where rain would fall.

Mr Manley said MetService was talking to Auckland Council about the next step: using the accumulation data to predict - a couple of hours ahead - where the storm was to strike.

- NZ Herald

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