Stormy weather in the North

Written By: - Date published: 12:08 pm, April 13th, 2017 - 65 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, global warming, science - Tags: ,

You’d have to say that an Easter cyclone is one of those truly awful scenarios for Auckland.

Forget the water. What happens when the Harbour Bridge and the Airport probably close?

Well clearly a lot. TVNZ reports that students and staff at some of the universities are off to an early easter. That is what? About 35 thousand people? I suspect that a lot of businesses are going to follow their lead. Easter is bad enough already.

From where I am having lunch, the volume of traffic pouring on to the motorways is already heavy. It seems like a really good Easter to just stay home. And wait out this instance of our rapidly increasing numbers of extreme weather patterns. This was predicted to me during while I was doing a BSc in earth sciences way way back in 1980 by the proponents of the then new theory of human caused climate change.

I’d have to say that the theories  of the earth and climate scientists made have been been borne out over the last 4 decades. It isn’t that the weather events are that much bigger (although that is coming), it is that we just get more of them. It is just that they happen much more often. And our infrastructure simply isn’t geared to 100 year events happening every decade. At present, we mainly get the effects in the years after a El Nino weather pattern. What happens as they keep getting more frequent?

65 comments on “Stormy weather in the North”

  1. Tarquin 1

    I’m out at Marsden Point at the moment. Wind is about 10 knots north east and very light rain. Was raining very heavily in Whangarei a couple of hours ago. Appears we may have missed the worst of it.

    • lprent 1.1

      Yeah. Sounds like it is coming down more into the Coromandel.

      The met service says

      Rain, chance downpours, easing this evening. Severe gale southwest from afternoon gusting 120 km​/​h in exposed places, eases this evening

      The gusts will be the problem. Plus the nose to tails on the roads when a sheet of water drops.

  2. Poission 2

    It isn’t that the weather events are that much bigger (although that is coming), it is that we just get more of them

    The Noah and Joseph effects in Hydrology are well known,ie Fractal.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/WR004i005p00909/abstract

    Are you proposing a frequency or intensity increase in South Pacific cyclones?

  3. tc 3

    Good advice to stay home as they are turning motorists back at mercer and we’ve sent people home….before they cant make it home.

  4. weka 4

    120km/hr winds aren’t that unusual in NZ and I think many places are used to that. Metservice was predicting 150km/hr winds yesterday. That’s a significant increase.

    Winds are the big CC issue for NZ IMO because of the potential to destroy forests and make otherwise good arable land much harder to farm on. We can rebuild buildings fairly quickly, it takes 30+ years for a forest to get on its feet again.

    edit, I see they’re talking 160km/hr now.

  5. weka 5

    Is the bridge a wind issue?

    • lprent 5.1

      Yes. If the gusts get bad enough and on the wrong angle, then they will close the bridge down. It doesn’t happen that often In fact I am as old as the bridge, and I can remember only vaguely remember one..

      The issue here is the gusting and the angle of the storms approach. Imagine a bus or truck with all of that large surface area getting hit with a gust of 150 km/h on a packed bridge. Or a motorcyclist. The problem is that they first time you know that the winds are gusting higher than expected down the upper harbour is the time you will find out the answer to those questions.

    • Sabine 5.2

      no bikie in their right mind will ride up the bridge today. No siree, nope, nopety nope.

      It makes sense to close the bridge if only to prevent issues from arising, as currently all emergency services are on stand bye, call outs for fire services are already coming in fast and furious and who really wants to deal with an overblown truck or a bikie in the water in a storm of this magnitude.

      • Carolyn_nth 5.2.1

        I find it freaky in a lesser wind driving over the bridge, when I feel a strong gust pushing my car in a sideways direction.

        • lprent 5.2.1.1

          When I was working in Takapuna and taking the bus (that northern busway was awesome), there were a couple of times that you could feel the bus twist and move in high winds.

  6. Carolyn_nth 6

    Well, the metservice website is now not showing the downpours it was predicting earlier for central Auckland.

    It’s the wind that’s the issue. Very glad I don’t need to travel over the bridge to work today.

    I think it’s the co-occurrence with Easter holiday traffic that is a big problem.

    Still heavy rain predictions for Whitianga this afternoon.

  7. Sabine 7

    I would not travel anywhere today.

    Stay put.

    cook a nice meal, and do what the transport minister said watch tv- hey. look a national minister who said something sensible for once! whoohoo

    Massive evacuation in the coromandle penisula, thames, whitianga, whangamata, tairua, cooks beach, and anywhere on the east coast.Roads may close to stop people from coming in.
    Slips in rotorua – driving there yesterday the lake was already up to road level after last weeks rain, this will push the lake over.
    Lake taupo may rise by half a meter

    And our emergency beeper keeps on beeping.

  8. Sabine 8

    Just in case,
    Hastings is on boil water notice. It seems e-coli is raising its ugly head. Cause hey, we don’t have issues as it is.

  9. John L 9

    100 yr events every decade. Wait until they are every year!
    I’ve been blown across 2 lanes of the bridge on a bike, (Ducati GT750) and It ain’t fun, even when you know it can happen and try to counter it – and that was a stable bike, not prone to being pushed around, like some.
    I’d stay off the bridge.

    • Sabine 9.1

      well the last one was last week. So hopefully we are good now for the next two years?

      yeah, no riding today. She’s slippery when wet.

  10. left_forward 10

    Which bridge?
    [Rhetorical] – a little Aucklocentric.

  11. tuppence shrewsbury 11

    How about a fine for Media agencies whipping up unnecessary hysteria? this is the second storm in a row where the herald in particular has whipped up a frenzy over what turns out to be nothing.

    • DoublePlusGood 11.1

      This is the second storm in a row where there have been rainfall totals way over 100 mm across wide areas, where there will be significant flooding.
      In this instance there is the likelihood of >100 km/h wind gusts over large areas of the country, in a number of places >150 km/h.
      There will also be a significant storm surge where the storm makes landfall, which can cause a lot of damage.
      This is not hysteria. Both this and the previous storm had lots of potential for loss of life, have/will caused a large amount of damage probably totalling hundreds of millions – where are you getting this idea that the media are being hysterical?

      • tuppence shrewsbury 11.1.1

        As i sit in my office overlooking the waitemata harbour, the hysteria caused by the herald sent tens of thousands of people pouring out of the CBD for no good reason.

        By all means fear and prepare for a storm where appropriate, but screaming “Harbour Bridge to close at 12.30pm” when there was barely even a breath of wind at 11.55am is down right irresponsible.

        The panic that set in was ridiculous and it was all fuelled by the herald editors in particular failing to qualify their statements correctly.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1.1

          It really comes down to how much warning you’ll have vs. how much you need. I agree about the Herald, Stuff was pretty bad too.

          Putting the media issue aside though, if there’s a 50% chance of a direct hit on Auckland in 36 hours, is that too soon to warn people? Or are the odds not good enough?

          When do NIWA and the Met Service alert Civil Defence? What’s the threshold for CD to start moving people?

          People in Whanganui went through all this last week for a flood that happened in Edgecumbe instead. Better weather modelling would most likely have seen both areas evacuated.

        • Sabine 11.1.1.2

          well,

          first, letting people go early because floods are making travels harder elsewhere is one thing – consider that there are already road closures in AKL and no rain has fallen yet there that would mention being called rain.

          second, chaos in Auckland is standard and just made a bit worse cause rain

          third, east coastal areas are being evacuated – mandatory – cause flooding and storm surges

          fourth, the floods in Taneatua / Edgecumbe last week were cause by rains – non stop rain like we are having today, and they are being flooded again – again. last week the water reached the 2 meter mark and has barely drained away, so you add some more water to that. Good fun all around.

          fifth, Here in middle NZ between Taupo and Rotorua it has been raining non stop since yesterday – Taupo are has been advised that the lake level could rise by half a meter – fun times

          sixth, the road blockages round Rotorua especially near Rotoma have yet to be fully cleared away – the lake was on road level already and floods will block a few more roads

          seventh, the emergency services are already understaffed and over worked, but who really cares

          last but least, Papamoa is pretty wild wind wise, people are hunkering down, and have their evacuation stuff ready – at least what i have heard from friends who live there.
          Now, that is gonna be gridlock if ever there was one. Papamoa evacuating – good fun.

          but yeah, its not yet Armageddon or New Orleans level just yet , so clearly the best time to close the harbour bridge is when the winds reach gusts of 160 km and only then and then burn the editors of the NZ Herald on the stake for telling people to go home and stay put. How dare they!

          No, Lets not close an area to prevent any damage or high risk emergency rescue operation from occurring, or promote that people leave home earlier from work, considering that its not going to get better today, now that would not the sensible thing to do.

        • lprent 11.1.1.3

          Problem is that it was a tight weather pattern moving fast. It is simply hard to predict where it would hit.

          When I was looking at this morning’s map, I thought coromandel would get it and we would get the edge.

          • weka 11.1.1.3.1

            What I don’t get about the people objecting to the warning is what would have happened if the storm *had hit Auckland? Shouldn’t people who would rush out at midday have been making a decision to stay home first thing this morning? Because I’m guessing that traffic jams in severe gale force winds wouldn’t have been pleasant or particularly safe.

            Having said that, there’s been some things in online news that have had me thinking they need better editors esp during emergencies.

    • Carolyn_nth 11.2

      Best to be prepared than not. Auckland seems to have dodged the bullet, but want be as calm elsewhere. Coromandel and Bay of Plenty still look likely to take a hit, if only from the surge of waves from the sea.

  12. Tarquin 12

    Wind is now 10 knots north west and there is quite a bit of blue sky about.

  13. Glenn 14

    Looks like Taranaki will also dodge the bullet, just that far enough west. Still got my fingers crossed though.

  14. Anne 15

    Okay. Been out all day and nowhere near a radio. So where the bloody hell is the thing?
    A few spits of rain and a light to fresh breeze.

    My rellies are going to razz me to death this weekend because I rang them up and told them to hunker down.

    • Carolyn_nth 15.1

      Heavy rain now seems to be of the agenda in Whitianga and Auckland, but still predicted for the BOP.

      Strong winds still predicted for Whitianga for next couple of hours, but not in Auckland.

      So, all quiet in the city of sails most liveable city.

  15. Sabine 16

    The damage from this storm will not be so much wind damage then flood damage. Water and silt. And that is actually worse then wind damage. So much more worse coming into winter, trying to drain water, run the de-humidifier to get the wet out of the walls and then rebuild.

    I guess we will need more Motel Emergency Housing.

  16. Carolyn_nth 17

    Update just on RNZ: weather warnings for Auckland now lifted.

    Rain and wind have passed over Coromandel and haven’t been as bad as predicted. however, there’s still concerns on Coromandel about damage from all the recent heavy rain: slips, road closures. So it’s still an emergency zone, closed to holiday makers, and they’ll assess the damage in the morning.

    • Carolyn_nth 17.1

      Oh. Strong wind warning for Auckland lifted, but heavy rain warning still in place.

  17. Sabine 18

    wind is picking up here now. And its raining…….

  18. Keith 19

    Well well well. What happened to the worst storm in 50 years?

    Auckland university closed early, Auckland District Court in essence ceased to operate, flags taken off the bridge with warnings it was going to be closed for the first time ever, states of emergency declared, people abandoned going to work, businesses closed and the North Island battened down the hatches. The disruption and cost to commerce and peoples lives must be in the hundreds of millions lost at least.

    But yet today we had a mild breeze, a few very light showers and cloud cover. The sea was glassy calm in parts.

    I am going to take a very educated guess that the New Zealand Metservice, like all government departments has had its budget slashed to save penny’s. And with their limited resources and loss of skilled staff they come out with bullshit apocalyptic weather predictions like this crock.

    Yes our unthinking corporate media loved it but chicken little moments like this will have a very negative consequence of people ignoring what they percieve to be more piss and wind from the Metservice. Why, because we don’t have a reliable meteorological service.

    Yet more proof that the idiots running this country and their mindless ideological cost cutting costs far more in earnings lost.

    • Carolyn_nth 19.1

      The track of such storms are not that easy to predict exactly. better to be safe than sorry.

      Tauranga and Whakatane are currently taking a battering. Power is out in Whakatane. Tauranga has been urgently evacuated. The excess of rain over recent weeks is still causing problems with slips and road closures.

      There is flooding out west in Auckland.

      And Auckland civil defense got a good workout.

      • Keith 19.1.1

        Yes there was some minor flooding in the scheme of things last night but the disruption today was almost unprecedented and all for nothing.

        It was a very big call by the weather forecaster/s because I am assuming there aren’t many left, but it looks exactly like they took a wild guess. Talk about cry wolf.

        Like I say the buy in next time won’t be any where near so good and I can’t blame anyone.

        • Carolyn_nth 19.1.1.1

          I doubt very much it was a wild guess. It happens with overseas cyclones that they deviate from the course the meterologists predict. And with ex-Cook’s journey down NZ, they weren’t that far out.

          And it’s reported to be pretty stormy down the east coast of the North Island.

          Cyclone Cook is making landfall over Bay of Plenty between Tauranga and Whakatāne.

          Civil Defence has warned the worst of the storm has not yet passed, and people in affected areas need to be prepared to leave their homes at short notice.

          A state of emergency is in place in Bay of Plenty and the Thames-Coromandel District.

          Hundreds of homes are without power in Tauranga, Waihi and Whakatāne.

          People living in low-lying areas of Tauranga – Inner Harbour and Pilot Bay, Harbour Drive, Strange Grove and Beach Road – are being asked to evacuate their homes as soon as possible.

          People living in Waihi Beach, Bowentown’s inner harbour, Athenree, Tuairo, Ongare Point, Little Waihi, Makety, Pukehina Beach and Matakana Island are also being asked to leave.

          Whakatāne Civil Defence has ordered the evacuation of some coastal properties in Ohope – including everyone from West End.

          Residents on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula were also advised to leave for higher ground.

          19:03
          The Bay of Plenty Fire Service it’s had hundreds of calls in the last few hours.

          It says some homes have been been flooded or hit by trees, while slips and powerlines have also come down on roads and properties.

          There is more to NZ than Auckland. It’s about people and their homes, and being safe rather than sorry, more than it’s about money.

        • dv 19.1.1.2

          Yep thats a really good idea Keith.

        • weka 19.1.1.3

          I doubt it was all for nothing. I’ve not seen discussion of this, but it looked to me like Metservice’s forecasting started to err more on the side of caution after the deaths of students in a flash flood some years ago. There were multiple issues that led to that, that included the Metservice (the Coroner made recommendations). I imagine that would have change the culture of Metservice, death is a pretty heavy thing to deal with.

          The worst storm in 50 years is heading south. That it missed Auckland is something to be thankful for.

        • joe90 19.1.1.4

          Talk about cry wolf.

          Expecting the worst and preparing properly ain’t crying wolf.

          It’s called a near miss.

      • Anne 19.1.2

        Good response Carolyn-nth @19.1

        Weather systems of tropical origin are notoriously unpredictable. They follow no predictable modelling and can change direction at the drop of a hat. Cyclone Cook was travelling almost due south in the 24 hrs before it entered northern NZ waters and it would have tracked over the top of Northland and Auckland had it continued on that path. But this morning it veered off in a SE direction which was sufficient to take the severe weather away from Northland and Auckland. From now on it will follow a more predictable path which should take it over the Bay of Plenty and then it will disperse through the rest of the country over the next 24 hrs – weakening as it goes.

    • Andre 19.2

      Keith, what do you reckon you’d be saying right now if the forecasters hadn’t put out warnings because the storm was on an easterly track, but it had veered west and Auckland actually got all the wind and rain that was in the forecast you’re complaining about?

      • Keith 19.2.1

        What it suggests then is weather forecasting in 2017 is as accurate as throwing a dart at a board from a long way off. A guess at best. Decisions were made a day or two before based on that guess but then it wasnt a guess, it was a near certainty apparently. I mean ceasing business, just in case?

        But I cannot help but think we have ended up with forecasting on a shoe string budget. But what can you do, its just the way it has to be.

        • Andre 19.2.1.1

          I reckon you’re being a bit unfair. This storm was small in size, but powerful. So where the effects hit was more dependent on the exact track it took than most.

          I’ll take a guess Metservice continually run slightly different models to account for the uncertainties in inputs, as well as looking at other forecasting services. So if the majority of their own models as well as the consensus from other services showed Auckland getting hit, what’s the responsible thing to do?

          Personally I hope they would do the same in the future, rather than let embarrassment from this storm inhibit them from giving warnings until they have greater certainty.

          http://about.metservice.com/our-company/national-weather-services/

          • Carolyn_nth 19.2.1.1.1

            It was also a very fast moving storm – so not a lot of time to prepare or warn people to take action.

        • Anne 19.2.1.2

          What it suggests then is weather forecasting in 2017 is as accurate as throwing a dart at a board from a long way of.

          What it suggests is nothing of the sort. Your knowledge of meteorological subjects is abysmal. Also you have not bothered to read any of the information provided above which should have helped you to improve your understanding of storms of tropical origin. But continue on your path of ignorance if you so desire.

          • Carolyn_nth 19.2.1.2.1

            Agree, Anne.

            I do think, though, that it was a bit OTT for the MSM to keep repeating lines about the storm being the worst in 58 years, or since the Wahine storm.

            It over-hyped the predicted storm.

            I was flatting in Auckland at the time of the Wahine disaster. I have no memory of living through a major storm here at the time. It was to me, weather as usual. So for me that “worst storm since…” was always a dodgy claim.

            I only remember the news of the awful crash of the Wahine and the impact on people in that area.

            I have also learned from living in areas of nasty happenings (e.g. south London during 1980s Brixton riots), that such events, like major storms, have localised impacts. You can be living in the next street, and only know how disastrous something was by looking at the news.

            The news condenses disastrous images, to make it seem like the worst impacts are everywhere.

          • Keith 19.2.1.2.2

            Yep, my umbrella took a thrashing from this worst storm in 50 years crap! It was “abysmal”!

            Don’t you question the need for well funded properly resourced weather forecasting or does an budget cut she’ll be right service cut it for you?

            Get out of your acceptance mode and challenge this rubbish.

            • Carolyn_nth 19.2.1.2.2.1

              The worst storm in 50 years stuff was partly a result of the sensationalising by the mainstream media.

              I think you’ll find Anne has some insider, and in-depth knowledge, going back a few years, of how weather is forecast.

              It seems to me that in today’s state of the art forecasting world wide, they cannot predict to the nth degree the exact path of such a storm, particularly when it is a small, destructive and fast moving one.

              It seems to me, the metservices and emergency services are improving their coordination and systems with each severe event.

              Part of the reason for wide spread warnings and advance evacuations was probably a result of the Edgecumbe flooding experience. No-one of significance predicted that the stop banks would give way and flood the town. Once the flooding happened, evacuations became harder, and more expensive.

              Much better to do precautionary evacuations in advance oF any area likely to be affected.

              It seems to me the emergency and civil defense services were coordinating throughout NZ as ex-cyclone Cook advanced across NZ. That’s a good thing and probably a valuable learning experience.

              I hope they take the experiences of the recent heavy rains, wind and flooding, do an in-depth review, and use that to improve responses to severe weather events in the future.

              Maybe more money would help to improve systems, but I don’t think that is a major factor in met services forecasts.

  19. Sabine 20

    might be a handy tool for the next few days if people have to plan their travels.

    https://onthemove.govt.nz/

  20. David Mac 21

    This morning the popular media were running headlines… ‘Far North cut off – Slip on State Highway 1 in the Mangamuku Range and flooding at Kaeo’.

    Since dawn the Kaeo time lapse webcam indicates the traffic has passed cautiously through there all day, non-stop.

    http://www.nrc.govt.nz/Environment/River-and-rainfall-data/Kaeo-Webcam/

    • Jenny Kirk 21.1

      On one lane only though – David Mac. And if the storm hadn’t moved out to the east, then Kaeo would have continued to be totally closed off. Better to be safe, than sorry.

      • David Mac 21.1.1

        Hi Jenny, Easter is the last hurrah of the season for most of the Far North tourism dependent. From resort owners to folk topping up household incomes cleaning a few baches.

        There was a flood of cancellations in the Far North yesterday. If the road was blocked, of course, fair enough. But sensational headlines reporting inaccuracies? Millions of dollars that now won’t be spent in one of our most impoverished regions. I’m not sure how to post a pic. It’s absolutely gorgeous in the Far North this morning.

  21. Sapani 22

    My cheeky seven year-old asked at dinner time: fake weather forecast?

  22. Sabine 23

    ahh, we must have weather trolls in the house tonight.

  23. Jenny Kirk 24

    Road closure in Tutukaka and house condemned because it’s moved downhill …. just a small part of the aftermath of the cyclone, so the north didn’t totally escape that cyclonic storm. But a calm sunny morning which will no doubt help people with the clean-up.

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