What makes a rainbow? An explanation of atmospheric optical phenomena

by Meteorologist Claire Flynn

 

Here at MetService, people often send us photos of interesting clouds, unusual weather, and also atmospheric optical phenomena. Atmospheric optics is the branch of physics which describes how light interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere, to create a wide range of visual spectacles. Things such as rainbows, ice haloes, and crepuscular rays all come under atmospheric optics, along with many others. These can be observed all around New Zealand under the right conditions.

Weather Balloon Launch Project

WEATHER BALLOON LAUNCH PROJECT - MetService, Space Place & Curious Minds NZ

By Lisa Murray, Communications Meteorologist.

Niko and Lucy launch the weather balloon at Paraparaumu workshop Friday 28th Oct 2016.

Talking about the weather in te reo Māori

Cliff Whiting mural Tawhirimatea and his children

To mark Māori Language Week this year, this blog post brings together some practical weather words you can use every day, along with the story of Tāwhirimātea – god of the weather. Ko Tāwhirimātea te atua o te hau me ngā āwhāTāwhirimātea is the god of winds and storms.

Severe Weather 1-2-3

Written by Lisa Murray, Communication Meteorologist.

Sitting out in the middle of the ocean, New Zealand is vulnerable to weather extremes from all directions, from the remains of tropical systems barreling in from the north, to cold winter southerlies bringing a blanket of snow.

What is a fresh wind? An explanation of wind speeds and the Beaufort Scale

written by MetService Meteorologist Claire Flynn

Sometimes in MetService forecasts, you will see a forecast for “fresh northerlies”. But what exactly does the word ‘fresh’ mean? For many people, the word ‘fresh’ carries connotations of cool or clean air (eg the phrase ‘fresh air’). However, the word ‘fresh’ also has a more technical definition, that comes from the Beaufort Scale, which I will describe in this blog.

 

Mean Wind Speeds vs. Gust Speeds

A classic cold front on Sunday 24 April 2016

By meteorologist Emma Blades

As a cold front swept up the North Island on Sunday 24 April 2016 it was like a blanket had lifted leaving blue skies behind. In the classic cold-front scenario, showers usually follow the main rain band. But because the flow was west to southwest behind the front, the South Island was sheltering the North Island from the showers, resulting in clear skies behing the front in this case.