Cheat sheet: why is New Zealand so obsessed with the weather?
As a nation, New Zealand never tires of the weather.
Tales of storms and chaos related to temperature and weather attract readers in droves. Scroll through any social media timeline after a decent storm and the feeds are awash with photos of the carnage.
We crunched the numbers and spoke to Ben Noll, a meteorologist at the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), to find out why Kiwis kinda like the weather.
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Is time even that important, though?
You bet it is. People love that. The weather articles on stuff.co.nz consistently get a massive response. In May, Things weather stories racked up 3,572,484 page views. To date, June weather stories have already generated 1,375,620 views. It’s not just a winter thing either. In January, weather reports recorded just under 7 million views.
Ok, but surely you would get that with any country?
According to Noll, you absolutely do. The American-born meteorologist says most people assume the United States is the truly weather-obsessed and loving nation. After all, they have some pretty exciting things to do. From tornado chasers to hurricanes and snowstorms, the United States has it all.
“But pretty much every country thinks they have the crown of weather obsession,” Noll says.
So isn’t New Zealand’s fascination so special?
In fact yes, it is. While all countries may think they are weather-loving, we Kiwis really to like. Noll says that as an American he has noticed “New Zealand has a very good record” for being the most obsessed.
Ok, but why the weather?
For starters, the diversity of weather we receive in New Zealand makes for great conversation. Weather talks are an easy elevator icebreaker, and the fact that our weather has a bit of everything makes it exciting enough to keep coming back for more.
“The combination of what’s happening on land and being surrounded on all sides by this huge ocean adds to the appeal,” says Noll.
It helps that the winter is filled with stories of storms and strange tornadoes too.
A Waikanae resident captured this video of the tornado on his CCTV. .
So we love chaos?
You might think so, but no. Noll says that while winter generates some pretty intense weather talk, our obsession with summer weather is just as strong. In fact, the NIWA team has a running joke about New Zealand’s Christmas forecast.
In preparation for the summer, the NIWA team has a small bet on when the first reporter will call, looking for a forecast for Christmas Day.
“It usually happens in September or October, but of course we can’t provide specific forecasts for one day a few months in advance. Nevertheless, every year it seems to happen.
But if we like an old story, what makes it a really great story?
It pretty much comes down to what will be memorable for you.
For Noll, that story was her wedding in February 2022. It was the day Hurricane Dovi arrived.
He said a wedding day would be the one day you really wouldn’t want a tropical cyclone to make landfall, and the irony is not lost on him that he, a meteorologist, chose a cyclone day. to get married.
“I think something that creates this memorable experience, tying in this human side of things, would make the best story.”
Wait, you mean this obsession is just so we have something to say?
Well, yeah, pretty much.
Noll says it’s the easiest conversation starter in any social situation.
“It’s like this ubiquitous chatter, it’s an icebreaker for every situation.”
Winter has arrived with snowfalls of up to 40cm falling in parts of the South Island.
Can’t we just chat about anything?
Sure, but the weather is something that impacts everything and everyone. Noll says it brings people together, when people are pretty divided on many issues.
“There’s no getting around it. It’s one of those things where everyone is in it together. You can have your own opinion on things, but time is time.
Do I need to understand it before starting a conversation?
Not really, but Noll suggests an understanding of the science behind a weather app can come in handy.
“Anyone can be a weather forecaster in 2022, but if someone asks you about a phenomenon, are you able to explain it or are you just a weather app launcher?” he says.
I can’t even scroll through my social media feed without seeing weather posts, what is it?
It adds to the excitement, says Noll.
“Social media has taken it to the next level. We see people excited to send in photos of clouds and tornadoes or big waves. Thanks to this, we can see these events from different angles almost in real time,” he says.