The New Zealand government announced on Sunday that the South Island’s northern and central regions, which suffered the worst damage from four days of heavy rain last week, would remain under a state of emergency as authorities assessed the damage. Over 500 people were forced out of their homes last week as heavy rains hit northern and central areas. Floods have also isolated towns in the North Island, notably Nelson, the worst-hit city. However, there have been no severe weather incidents or evacuations overnight in the region around Nelson.
New Zealand officials said they had examined about half of the affected properties, but detailed assessments would likely require days depending on the weather. They said that despite the extreme weather has subsided, warnings against heavy rainfall remained in New Zealand’s western Tasman and Fiordland on the South Island, according to Metservice’s website.
According to New Zealand’s national emergency officials, a state of emergency continues in Marlborough, West Coast, and Nelson-Tasman regions. According to the website, local authorities are instructing residents to evacuate, and self-evacuation is an option for anyone who feels unsafe. Thanking rescuers for their efforts, New Zealand Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said that recovery would be a long and challenging process.
Senior geography lecturer at the New Zealand University of Otago, Dr. Daniel Kingston, believes climate change contributes to these events, as warming air and sea surface temperatures increase the probability of significant rainfall events.” As the atmosphere warms, it can hold more moisture, resulting in more extreme heavy rainfall events.” The minister thanked the rescuers but warned that the recovery process would be long and difficult.
Torrential rain has pounded the west and north of New Zealand’s South Island for a third consecutive day, prompting hundreds to evacuate their homes, disrupting schools and roads, and triggering landslides. Torrential rain has worsened the already sodden landscape of New Zealand in recent weeks. Experts believe the unusually wet weather is due to a narrow stream of water vapor, or an “atmospheric river,” that sits above New Zealand. Because of bad weather, highway access was blocked by landslides, fallen trees, and flood waters in the northern part of North Island, isolating residents. The bad weather forced airlines to cancel flights and businesses to close. A house in Tāhunanui slid into a gully due to the storm.
The north of New Zealand’s South Island has experienced over 300 millimeters of rainfall in the last 24 hours, according to Metservice data. Since Tuesday, Nelson city has received 106 millimeters of rain—40 percent more than its August average of 80 millimeters. Kieran McAnulty, New Zealand’s emergency management minister, offered a $200,000 contribution to the mayor’s relief fund to assist the communities.
While Auckland, the largest city on New Zealand’s North Island, hasn’t been significantly impacted by heavy rain and winds, authorities warn of potential problems. More than 230 homes in Nelson, a city of over 50,000, have been evacuated. Many New Zealand public facilities and roads were closed. The Nelson council website warns that continued rain may cause additional landslides, flooding, and evacuations, as it has throughout the night. While Nelson has survived the night without any serious incidents, infrastructures are being stressed, said Mayor Rachel Reese.
According to the New Zealand Buller district council, people from 160 homes were able to return to their residences over the last day to find out the extent of the damage. However, further rain is expected, and they may have to evacuate again if required. Across the district, Mayor Jamie Cleine said he believed the impact was limited. It was streamed live on the internet.
Residents in Nelson have been ordered to vacate their homes immediately following the Maitai River bursting its banks. As a result of heavy rain across the South Island, the Maitai River, which runs through Nelson and empties into Tasman Bay, burst its banks. Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said that search and rescue teams were now looking for people needing help in the flooded streets and areas after flood waters invaded the city center.
Heavy Rain is Expected to Continue
The heavy rain in New Zealand is expected to continue until Friday and will be at the same level until tomorrow morning. It will probably remain at this level until tomorrow morning, according to Ashlee Parkes of MetService. There may be a slight decrease overnight, but it will not be much, as we are seeing now. It is likely to persist until tomorrow morning. In the next 24 hours, the Nelson region will see another 400 mm of rain, which is twice the monthly average. The area will not see any relief until Friday, and even then, the respite will be short, as more heavy rain is forecast for the weekend.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson
The Guardian: New Zealand floods: hundreds evacuate as ‘atmospheric river’ brings deluge
NZ Herald: Weather: Evacuations as heavy rain, potential flooding hits West Coast, South Island; deluge forecast to move into North Island regions
The Guardian: New Zealand authorities warn more heavy rain to hit flooded South Island
Featured and Top Image Courtesy Sam Leivers’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of filippo_jean‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
New Zealand’s Northern and Central Regions Suffered Most From the Flood added by Janet Grace Ortigas on August 23, 2022
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