New Zealand – Major Floods Hit Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay

A deep sub-tropical low brought severe weather, including torrential rain, to parts of New Zealand‘s North Island yesterday, 11 June, 2018. Some areas have recorded around 200 mm of rain in 36 hours, with more heavy rain forecast.

Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay were the worst hit areas. For some communities this was the second major flood event in the last 7 days.

Over 1,000 homes have been left without power and roads, including state highways 2 and 5, have been blocked. The town of Te Karaka in Gisborne has been completely cut off.

New Zealand Minister of Civil Defence Hon Kris Faafoi was to visit the affected areas of Gisborne. In a statement he said, “Te Karaka is cut off for a period today and the Hikuwai and Waipaoa rivers have been slowly rising. These have now peaked and are slowly receding. Hikuwai river reached the same height as last week’s floods while Waipaoa exceeded last weeks height.”

“I understand that the families evacuated last week were moved out overnight as a precautionary measure and that no families are in the flood zone for the Hikuwai,  Between 1 and 2,000 homes are without power and many roads are closed due to flooding – so this community really is bearing the brunt of this extreme weather.

“This is an evolving situation so I want to get to Gisborne and see for myself how things are and what ongoing Government support may be needed.”

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Manager Louise Bennett advised people to be cautious. “River levels are stabilising and rain is easing. However, there’s heavier rain forecast for tonight which could raise the alert level again.”

“If you live around the Waituhi area and want to play it safe, spend the night with friends and family in town”.

Floods have damaged several bridges in Gisborne, New Zealand, 11 June 2018. Photo: Gisborne District Council
Flooded roads in Gisborne, New Zealand, 11 June 2018. Photo: Gisborne District Council

Rainfall

According to Gisborne Council figures, at least 6 locations recorded more than 115 mm of rain in 24 hours on 11 June, including Tuahu (136 mm), Tutamoe Station (126mm), Puketoro Station (122.5mm) and Mata River at Pouturu Bridge (118 mm).

The rain continued to fall into 12 June, and by 18:00, many of these areas had recorded a further 60 to 90 mm of rain and Waikura had recorded 125.5mm of rain.

Rainfall in New Zealand, 11 to 12 June 2018. Image; Met Service New Zealand

Further Warnings

Meteorological Service of New Zealand has predicted further severe weather. In a forecast of 12 June, Met Service said:

“A deep sub-tropical low near Bay of Plenty is expected to move south to lie near the central high country by midnight Tuesday, then move southeast and lie just southeast of central New Zealand by midnight Wednesday. The low will bring heavy rain and gales to many parts of northern and central New Zealand.”

The heaviest of the rainfall is expected in the Kaikoura Ranges, where between 170 to 220mm could fall between 12 and 13 June.

Many areas, including the Coromandel Peninsula, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Bay Of Plenty and the eastern hills of Wellington, Wairarapa and Tararua District (excluding Tararua) could see Peak intensities 10 to 15mm per hour.