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.’’
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.