Posted by: Rowan | July 27, 2008

There is no weather today

As that ‘once in 10-year’ storm was barging across the top half of the island on Saturday, I thought I’d better check on any storm warnings. Partly to see how severe it was north of Auckland where my Dad lives, but also to check if there were any warnings for the Wairarapa. If the winds were to be as bad as predicted I was expecting the Wairarapa to get a thumping from the south-east.

So I jumped onto weather.co.nz which is run by the Met Service and waited and waited and waited.

Server error – too busy, said Firefox. Or there’s something wrong with my network config (like hell there is), or I have to go talk to my network admins (well that’s me). Try again… Server error – too busy. Server error – too busy. I had about as much joy as I get checking my Lotto numbers on Sunday morning.

And so it went on through the course of the morning and into the afternoon. Periodically I’d get lucky and get a page, and periodically I’d only get half-lucky and get a page that was missing all its styling – too busy to grab the CSS files amidst all the chaos going on on the server, it sounds like.

I thought it was a bit wet really. It was meant to be a ‘one in 10-year’ storm and this could have been emergency-time. At one stage I checked out Civil Defence to see if they were relaying any weather warnings but their site just said no emergencies had been declared. Factual, but not very useful on the “be prepared” front.

I did find some good stuff though. A web cam on Orewa beach gave me some of what I wanted to know, but even better was wind.co.nz. A series of stations around the country periodically relay an XML feed of wind speed, direction and temperature data which then get aggregated and pumped out through a Flash interface – along with the kind of warnings I was looking for in the first place.

Link to wind.co.nz.

Wind.co.nz - hovering over the station locations displays the local wind conditions.

The highest wind-speed I saw, btw, was 74 knots (137 km/h) from the Channel Island station at the tip of the Coromandel.

Weather.co.nz did seem to settle down and behave nicely sometime around mid-afternoon, to be fair. And they did do a good job getting stuff out on the radio, to be even fairer. But by then I had everything I wanted – the sat maps and weather charts off the Sky weather channel, and the close-enough-to-live feed from wind.co.nz.

Good thing it didn’t become an emergency though, eh?

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