Still fore­cast­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

THE sun may have set on Bob McDavitt’s ca­reer but aside from fewer early morn­ing starts not much has changed for this self­pro­claimed ‘‘ weather nut’’.

Af­ter 40 years of fore­cast­ing the coun­try’s no­to­ri­ously volatile weather, the Herne Bay res­i­dent has been recog­nised in the 2013 New Year hon­ours list a year into his re­tire­ment.

Mr McDavitt was ap­pointed a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to me­te­o­rol­ogy and yachting.

The veteran weather ex­pert quips the hon­our is a well-earned pat on the back for me­te­o­rol­o­gists who of­ten bear the brunt of the pub­lic storm when the weather turns.

‘‘Me­te­o­rol­o­gists are usu­ally the butt of jokes so I thought it would be good for me­te­o­rol­o­gists all around the world – good for Jim Hickey, good for Karen Olsen. It shows that they’re do­ing a proper ser­vice af­ter all.’’

Mr McDavitt be­came the ‘‘face of New Zealand weather’’ af­ter two decades as MetSer­vice’s charis­matic weather am­bas­sador.

Even in his re­tire­ment he al­ways keeps an eye on the weather maps for ea­ger passers-by. ‘‘It’s quite fun really. ‘‘No-one’s hit me over the head with an um­brella yet but you do get peo­ple coming up to you in su­per­mar­ket aisles be­rat­ing you for that wet weather that ru­ined their plans.’’

Mr McDavitt stepped down from his role with MetSer­vice in Jan­uary last year but con­tin­ues to pro­duce a weekly weather bul­letin for the south­west Pa­cific used by many sailors.

Welling­ton’s Wahine storm of 1968 was the cat­a­lyst for his ca­reer in fore­cast­ing.

His first post­ing was to the old Welling­ton Air­port in 1975 and then to Fiji for sev­eral years.

In 1981, he trans­ferred to Christchurch Air­port where he worked un­til 1985.

In the fol­low­ing decade, he split his time be­tween fore­cast­ing in Welling­ton and for New Zealand’s Amer­ica’s Cup yachting cam­paigns in Perth and San Diego.

He was the New Zealand team me­te­o­rol­o­gist for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and was awarded the Yachting New Zealand Coach of the Year Award in 2011.

There will al­ways be a need for the hu­man touch in re­port­ing the weather, he says.

‘‘I al­ways say that me­te­o­rol­ogy is 30 per cent sci­ence, 30 per cent art and 30 per cent com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­cause you could have the per­fect forecast but if you can’t com­mu­ni­cate it to any­body out there it’s wasted.

‘‘And that leaves 10 per cent for luck but we try to min­imise the luck.

‘‘My phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been it could be worse.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

Blown away: Things are still look­ing bright for ve­tran me­te­o­rol­o­gist Bob McDavitt af­ter he was ap­pointed a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit in the 2013 New Year hon­ours.

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