A new radar system will make predicting severe weather easier in the Waikato, the MetService says.
The Government has approved funding for three new radars around the North Island. The first will be installed at New Plymouth airport next June.
MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said the new radars would give them more accurate and faster information about pending weather patterns.
The other two radars will be installed in Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty. Specific sites and dates have not yet been confirmed but they will be installed within the next three years.
The radars will cost about $10 million.
Mr McDavitt said severe thunderstorms caused significant damage very quickly, but the new radars would enable smaller and isolated towns to get plenty of warning before storms hit.
Radars were the only way to track the path and progress of tornadoes and thunderstorms.
"You could get a text about a hail storm about to come," he said. "Then you can adjust your activities to meet the message. You wouldn't drive your car down to the supermarket then."
Mr McDavitt said having more radars would have been useful during the recent Taranaki tornadoes.
"We could have told people accurately when they would clear. There would have been more information to give."
The North Island now has two radars - one in Auckland and one in Wellington.
These radars cover only 25 per cent of the North Island. The three new radars will increase coverage to 80 per cent.
"It will make weather warnings more accurate. We'll be able to warn civil defence (units) if evacuations need to be made."
The regional council Environment Waikato emergency management officer Adam Munro said the radar in Taranaki "will greatly enhance EW's existing flood warning capability, by enabling the real time tracking and monitoring of severe weather systems coming into the Waikato".
Mr McDavitt expected the technology to be fully operational within 10 years and hoped to get "everything in place" for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.Weather Story
Tropical Depression Erin
Erin Weakens to Tropical Depression; Torrential Rain Heads Toward Flood-Weary Parts of Texas
By ELIZABETH WHITE
The Associated Press
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas
Tropical Storm Erin made landfall Thursday as a tropical depression, bringing torrential downpours to Houston before aiming at flood-weary central Texas.
One person was killed and another was injured when a waterlogged roof collapsed at a storage unit at a Houston grocery store, Houston Fire Chief Omero Longoria said.
Erin came ashore at about 7 a.m. at Copano Bay, about 25 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.
"We're very fortunate. We're always prepared for the worst and we pray that we're wrong," said Corpus Christi Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Hernandez. "For the most part it looks like we dodged a bullet." (See Storm Erin Deluges Houston)Super Typhoon SEPAT