New Zealand – Floods Destroy Roads and Bridge After Record Rain

Authorities have declared a state of emergency after record rainfall hit New Zealand’s South Island. Flooding has destroyed a bridge and several roads. At least one person is thought to have died in the flooding.

Flood damage in Westland District, West Coast Region, New Zealand, March 2019. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast Region

The county’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said the rain was brought by an atmospheric river which “has an atmospheric ‘footprint’ that extends some 5000+ km, from the Timor Sea to New Zealand.”

According to NIWA, Cropp Waterfall recorded 1,086 mm of rain in 48 hours to 27 March, the highest ever 48 hour total for New Zealand.

Civil Defence West Coast Region declared a local state of emergency for the Westland District at 1745hrs on 26 March 2019 (local time) due to the severe weather.

New Zealand police said that the body of a woman had been found washed up on a riverbank in Arahura Valley near the town of Hokitika, West Coast region. Police said initial enquiries suggest the woman was swept away in flood waters after getting out of her vehicle.

Raging flood waters from the Waiho River completely destroyed the Waiho Bridge near the town of Franz Josef on 26 March. In a statement of 27 March, West Coast Region Civil Defence said the bridge will need to be completely replaced, with work likely to start immediately and take around 10 to 14 days.

The severe weather has caused power outages and disrupted telephone connections. Dozens of houses and business have been affected by flooding. Around 300km of roads have been damaged. As of 27 March at least State Highways 6 and 73 were blocked in several locations.

Flood damage in Westland District, West Coast Region, New Zealand, March 2019. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast Region
Flood damage in Westland District, West Coast Region, New Zealand, March 2019. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast Region
Flood waters from the Waiho River completely destroyed the Waiho Bridge near the town of Franz Josef on 26 March. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast Region

Social Media

https://twitter.com/NiwaWeather/status/1110425702187171840

https://twitter.com/NiwaWeather/status/1110741384384770048

https://twitter.com/NiwaWeather/status/1110630744479531008

https://twitter.com/NiwaWeather/status/1110342051650920448

Flood Summary

Last updated: March 27, 2019
Event
New Zealand, March 2019
Date
March 25, 2019
Type
Flash flood, Landslide, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
Extreme rainfall in parts of South Island, New Zealand, caused major flooding. Authorities declared state of emergency in Westland District, West Coast Region, on 26 March, 2019.

Locations

A - Franz Josef
B - Arahura Valley
C - Haast
D - Waiho River, Franz Josef - River level 7.6 metres
E - Haast River at Roaring Billy - River level 7.692 metres
F - Hokitika River at Gorge - River level 5.97 metres
G - Hokitika - Rainfall level 110 mm in 24 hours
H - Haast - Rainfall level 113.2 mm in 24 hours
I - Secretary Island - Rainfall level 137.2 mm in 24 hours

Magnitude

River level
7.6 metres
Waiho River, Franz Josef - March 26 to March 26, 2019
River level
7.692 metres
Haast River at Roaring Billy - March 26 to March 26, 2019
Alarm stage is 6 metres
River level
5.97 metres
Hokitika River at Gorge - March 27 to March 27, 2019
Alarm stage is 3.7m
Rainfall level
110 mm in 24 hours
Hokitika - March 25 to March 26, 2019
Meteorological Service of New Zealand figures
Rainfall level
113.2 mm in 24 hours
Haast - March 25 to March 26, 2019
Meteorological Service of New Zealand figures
Rainfall level
137.2 mm in 24 hours
Secretary Island - March 26 to March 27, 2019
WMO figures

Damages

Fatalities
1 person
Arahura Valley - March 26 to March 27, 2019
Bridge destroyed
1 bride
Franz Josef - March 25 to March 27, 2019