The MetService that cried cyclone

By   /   April 14, 2017  /   24 Comments

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You can’t tell your largest City that they are about to be hit by a huge storm that doesn’t eventuate because the next time it happens, they won’t believe you and that matters because we know from global warming that these extreme weather events are going to occur more and more often and if you have a cynical population who don’t believe the warnings, that will cost lives.

The most interesting thing about Cyclone Cook was the media reaction to it.

The mainstream corporate media who had been given full licence by MetService to hype Cyclone Cook up as the storm of the century became pretty pissed off once Aucklander’s had the temerity to challenge the hyperbole when sweet fuck all eventuated


…such comments were deemed unacceptable to the rest of NZ who did have to put up with some rain and wind.

The Corporate media and MetService were left red faced after promising the Harbour Bridge would close down, and breathlessly announcing the city was shutting down at midday and frantic headlines highlighting the rush to bus stops as people crammed aboard everything with wheels to flee the city.

And then bugger all happened in Auckland.

Yes, the middle of the North Island was hit and some electricity knocked out. But no one died, and this so called worst storm of 50 years didn’t live up to the media hype at all.

While the hypersensitive on twitter felt such complaints at the lack of anything meaningful in NZs largest city was smug and shallow, it did, does and will matter.

You can’t tell your largest City that they are about to be hit by a huge storm that doesn’t eventuate because the next time it happens, they won’t believe you and that matters because we know from global warming that these  extreme weather events are going to occur more and more often and if you have a cynical population who don’t believe the warnings, that will cost lives.

The MetService is like every other public service under the National Government, underfunded and run down. At what point did they realise their prediction for Auckland was wrong. Did they have the right staff and infrastructure to make the right calls? Has funding got anything to do with their poor prediction abilities?

This shit needs sorting because we require a weather forecast service that can actually forecast weather with some accuracy, especially as these extreme events are now going to become a permanent feature of our climate.


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  1. David See-More says:

    Well it is jolly annoying that it was just a storm in a teacup imho.

    There are only a few months to the election and photo-ops of red-bejacketed and caring govt Ministers are so few and far between.

    Someone at the Met Services should fall on their swords for such a monumental stuff-up. The should get involved in this issue for abuse of taxpayer dollars..

  2. saveNZ says:

    I wondered exactly the same thing. Has the National government been politically meddling in the Met service and turning it into an advertorial business focused venture that some how fails to predict the weather anymore?

    I looked last week and it said sunny weather on Easter Monday so I made plans accordingly. Then suddenly it’s the worst storm in 50 years and then Monday’s raining. Make their minds up!

    For the neolibs out there, totally screwed up business as well, millions lost from retail business as everyone got out of the city and hunkered down for the imaginary storm.

    Not cool to be so off in the weather. Like all their state owned services, the Met fails to do what it’s supposed to after nearly a decade of the Natz.

    I guess when they start converting scientific weather vessels to help the oil industry, it’s what is to be expected.

  3. Matthew says:

    Normally i like your stuff Martyn but this is just crap. I for one would much rather be forewarned than taken by surprise. Weather is unpredictable and forecasters can only go by what the models say.
    If it was truly a media over-reaction, then change your headline…. if you truly believe it was the forecasters fault, then you need to look at how they actually forecast weather.
    But either way, thousands lost power, roads are closed, trees are down… people have been affected. Yes no-one died… but maybe that was due to them being prepared for the worst?

    • Geoff Lye says:

      agree 100% Mathew.

      Only takes a few degrees of air pressure to change a storms path.

      Martyn is totally over reacting.

      White island in the bay of plenty had 209k winds so better prepared and not get hit and get hit and not be prepared.

      • Richard Christie says:


        Martyn will the first to scream if ever a destructive storm results in death or damage and the Met service had failed to issue warning.

        Must be a slow news day at TDB.

    • XRAY says:

      I do not agree. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse were a coming to smite us sinners if the repeat the story and never question anything media was anything to go by. But when it came down to it some autumn showers passed by. First time I’ve seen the flags off the harbour bridge for a gentle breeze.

      Do you really think businesses, uni’s and government organisations who in an unprecedented move closed up based on the Metservices best guess/tea leaf reading are thinking, oh well, just in case we will do it next time anyway, that loss was fun?

      This blog is exactly correct, another government service run down and underfunded that is supposed to provide valuable information got it way wrong and the cost to commerce will be immence.

      Tge warning is not the problem, the wild guess by a weak metservice is.

      National’s efficiecies strike again!

    • Martin C says:

      Yes, Remember Giselle, supposedly dying and heading out to see.
      Re energized and change course for Cook Strait.

  4. CLEANGREEN says:

    This showed clearly that the weather science is just a shoddy not to accurate science and they should just n come out and admit to us that their predictions are just that, “PREDICTIONS.”

    To come out and issue warnings to not travel or stay in homes is their issue to wrestle with not ours, so those who wished to stay should be allowed to do so.

    Anyway we are very happy that no-one was a casualty.

    We in the high Raukaroa ranges above the lower Bay of Plenty were not warned of heavy rail or winds and suffered considerably with both.

    This will make many not take the weather reports so seriously in future.

  5. Katie says:

    Perhaps certain elements of the MSM went into overhype mode, but the reality was there was a very real major storm heading this way and it was pure luck it veered away from the initial projections. That’s what cyclones often do. And that’s not met service’s fault; it’s not an exact science.

    Maybe there were some communications that needed to be sped up, otherwise the warnings of a potential serious event were what we should expect. If these precious Aucklanders are feeling all put out because they missed out on a major disaster and choose to ignore or plan for any subsequent events then tough shit for them, they suffer the consequences.

    As an analogy- I live in a tsunami zone in Wellington and spent the night of last November’s quake up on a hill taking the evacuation notice VERY seriously. A tsunami did actually reach Lyall Bay here, but because it wasn’t a big wave or do anything dramatic there were a few people feeling put out, cheated almost, and pissed off “well that was a waste of time spending all night in my car up on a hill” and angry even, suggesting the threat wasn’t as big as they were making it out to be. and no doubt there’ll be a few idiots who won’t take the next event seriously either.

    The blame game was doing the rounds then too, although some was justified with regards to geonet underfunding.

    We can just all be bloody grateful it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, and show some sympathy for the regions that were affected.

    • Katie says:

      Keeping with the quake analogy- there’s an awful lot of people who would’ve greatly appreciated ANY type of warning of these devastating quakes, only to have the end result be a 3.9 jolt.

    • XRAY says:

      @ Katie. If you have ever worked for an organisation as I have that has had its budget cut or slashed for efficiency reasons, do more with less, work smarter and all the other corporate catch phrases to explain neutering an organisation, you would understand just how easily it’s core business ceases to work properly. At times like that those places lose good staff, if not irreplaceable experience. What you could have predicted you can no longer because the right people are no longer there.

      I knew someone at Niwa who left their fairly senior job only for that position to not be replaced so the logic is others had to fill in to cover. Whilst they stop gap that position, it and their core jobs suffer. So I am in no doubt Metservice has had similar National Party ideological cuts to its funding, to cover tax cuts, and of course their pet favourite, frozen budgets.

      They should have the latest technology and best of all experienced staff who have a vast amount of research and previous experience to call upon. But the chances are like every other government department they don’t anymore. It’s then you get stuff ups.

      Saying the storm hooked a right and didn’t stick to our script is not good enough, it reeks of wild guessing. Someone knows why this happened because there will be a very established meteorological reason for it. And probably that someone is no longer with the Metservice.

      Wild guesses do not cut it for me unless that is just how unreliable weather forecasting is. And if so then we may as well go about our day and deal with the ramifications as they arise because we can’t go through life waiting for the sky to fall in.

      Too many false calls and people will tune out if they are not already.

    • Martin C says:

      Katie, I also spent the night up a hill. If there had been a good undersea landslide the sea would have washed across Rongotai Isthmus within 30 minutes. Again we dodged a bullet 🙂

  6. Mike in Auckland says:

    A very timely post, I think. I was also somewhat astonished at the hype that was dished out to the news followers (TV, radio, print and online). We got “warmed up” for nearly a week, for a “disastrous cyclone Cook” going to head to New Zealand, and to hit us badly, a once in fifty year storm event, so it was predicted.

    The weatherman on TV1 was getting all excited, as I watched, so did the newsreaders, over the course of days.

    That cyclone hit New Caledonia nearly a week before, did admittedly cause a fair bit of disturbance and damage there, but via RNZ I learned, they were very well prepared, there was after all not all that much harm and damage done, and only 1 person was alleged to have died from something that ‘cyclone’ caused.

    Yesterday, yes even in the evening before, I waited with anticipation, made sure I did my shopping and much else the days before, and what happened? Oh, gosh, silence, hardly any wind, in the evening almost no air movement, a bit of rain in the afternoon, clouds were thinning later, and nothing much else was to be noticed.

    But turning on the radio, looking up media websites and watching TV, there was supposed to be gusts, the Harbour Bridge was about to be closed, and rain was inundating “much of Auckland”, but I wondered, where?

    Later, the 6 o’clock news had reporters out in Auckland, towns in the Coromandel, in Tauranga, Edgecumbe, Whakatane, Wellington and even elsewhere. Live reports were given for most of the news, but when I watched these “weather event reporters”, most looked like they were hardly wet, had their hair well combed and seemed to have nothing much to report.

    Only one reporting from Tauranga reported strong wind gusts, and lots of rain. The others appeared to even have had their rain jackets wetted artificially, to make them look like they were reporting rain.

    So this was an anticipated once in a lifetime “weather porn non event”, there was no “orgasmic” high point, there was ‘nada’, nothing to really report at all, the ‘storm’ called “cyclone” had faded into insignificance, was a fizzer of sorts, it was a complete WASTE of journalistic media resources.

    Things of more importance are no longer reported on, or very briefly, occasionally and erratically, the MSM have some time ago discovered THE WEATHER, like earthquakes, motor vehicle accidents, smash and grab crime events, same as drug busts and the likes, that are meant to get our adrenaline running.

    Last night was a huge embarrassment for TV1, TV3 and others, they wasted human manpower resources, and paid expenses to send them off all over the country, to put them in hotels or motels for the night, because they were expected to report on that ‘historic weather event’, but it never happened.

    I’d say, sack them all, if they cannot even spend a bit on investigative journalism, and waste the bit of resources they have on such damned nonsense. Surely, the weather forecasters must have known, this will not turn out quite as bad as it had even in New Caledonia, but no, that was not told, people were put into panic mode, to up the ante, to add a bit of “spice” to the story.

    A C minus – if not D – from my point of view for the MSM!

  7. Mike the Lefty says:

    I think we have to say that NZ’s weather forecasters are generally quite accurate, but they have their off-days. Ex-tropical cyclones are hard to accurately track and had Cyclone Cook proceeded as predicted the damage would undoubtedly have been worse.
    On the other hand the MSM took perverse enjoyment in hyping the whole thing up out of all proportion. But that’s not at all unusual.
    Lessons to be learnt: be prepared but don’t get let MSM panic artistry rule your head.

  8. kejomu says:

    Settle down Martyn

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes, this was a timely subject.

      As we were “peppered with impending disaster” all over the spectrum of the MSM at a time when Nactional was under attack for various touchy issues then.

      It appeared to “deflect” the issues of the day don’t you think?

      Yes the old deflection mode is as old as when Hitler reigned his terror.

      He used to “create” a disaster” then appear with a solution” this was an art form then to make him look invincible”, so expect more of this as the election approaches kiwis.

      Good work there Martyn, bringing this to the table.

  9. Kim dandy says:

    This has happened before….taking our minds off something else perhaps?

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes KD,

      This is a clear case of NatZ developing minimalist issues to defect our minds from the REAL issues at play again, as they know the public are beginning to see the rot (THROUGH THE SMOKE SCREEN) that NatZ are causing us all.

      Why didn’t the Met Service cry about the gathering massive cloud cover covering both hemispheres as we speak lead not by a cyclone, but caused by the increasing melting of both polar ice caps.

      Just SIMPLY view the thick grey cloud covering most of the lower southern & upper hemispheres in this “enhanced” Satellite picture happening in real global time.

      Clearly both hemispheres (North & south) show a gathering of thick grey cloud (precipitation) gathering around them.

      “One picture tells a thousand words.”

  10. Siobhan says:

    Name me one weather service in the world who can consistently pinpoint the exact landing point and strength of a cyclone.
    Its hard enough in a land mass the size of the American continent, let alone a small scrap of land like Auckland/New Zealand..

  11. Sally's Husband says:

    “You can’t tell your largest City that they are about to be hit by a huge storm that doesn’t eventuate because the next time it happens, they won’t believe you and that matters because we know from global warming that these extreme weather events are going to occur more and more often and if you have a cynical population who don’t believe the warnings, that will cost lives.”

    A bit unfair Martyn. The cyclone was on target to hit Auckland. It’s not the Metservices’ fault it veered away. If the storm had hit, and Metservice hadn’t issued the warning, would you be writing that they were to blame for not being sufficiently cautious to issue a warning?

    Remember this;

    “Six scientists who were each sentenced to six years in prison because they failed to predict a deadly earthquake in Italy which left 309 people dead have been cleared.

    The group, which includes some of the country’s most respected seismologists, was jailed for manslaughter after underestimating the risks that an earthquake posed to the town of L’Aquila.

    The medieval mountain town was decimated by the killer quake in 2009, which measured more than 6.3 on the Richter Scale and killed more than 300 people and left thousands homeless. ”

    Luckily the sentences were over-turned.

  12. jemal corliss says:

    What a truly idiotic post, do you think weather prediction is 100%? or that the Met service gave the warning out for shits and giggles? Most people do take these warnings seriously as they should and i’m sure will do in the future. This cyclone did hit other parts of NZ it’s not all about Auckland and i say that as someone who lives in Auckland.

  13. Pat O'Dea says:

    I have pretty much, lived in Auckland all my life. In that time I can recall several “severe cyclone” warnings that never matched the expectations of weather forecasters.
    I put this down to two things: The Watakere Ranges in the West,
    and the Great Barrier and Coromandel Ranges in the East.

    Fortunately it seems that these natural barriers to severe weather, were not responsible for Auckland “dodging a bullet” this time, (as the weather forecasters put it), but we can be glad that they are there.

    Unfortunately, these natural barriers don’t protect Auckland from tornadoes that follow a path in from the north. And which have brought a number of deaths, in the last five years.

    The climate is changing.

    And Yes we live in a fortunate place, and Yes we have again escaped the worst of it. But I am glad of the warnings. And I prepared as best I could.

    Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  14. Afewknowthetruth says:

    All districts of the North Island, except New Plymouth district, Cape Reinga and East Cape, have experienced over 200% of normal rain in the past 15 days, and many regions have experienced over 400%.

    The warmer the oceans get (as a consequence of burning fossil fuels), the greater the tendency for evaporation and extreme precipitation.

    As long as industrial humans have access to fossil fuels they are not going to stop burning fossil fuels. Therefore it is all going to get worse and worse and worse over the coming decades.

  15. Martin C says:

    my answer to anyone who thinks this was overplayed: Cyclone Giselle.
    that we got another like it didn’t surprise me. It was always a matter of when. Auckland dodged a bullet. Be thankful!
    Next time may be very different and sooner than you think.