September 2, 2008

Deluge Forecast for the West Coast


Half a metre of rain is forecast for the West Coast over the next few days, continuing August's wet and wild weather for the South Island into a new month.

The MetService is forecasting more than 500mm of rain to fall from today to Thursday as an active front sweeps up the coast's mountain ranges.

MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said a record high- pressure system was blocking a series of fronts.

"Isobars (on a satellite map) are bunched together over the South Island, as they make room for the high," he said. "Instead of bringing one day of heavy rain, they're bringing three days of lingering rain."

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has issued a warning to recreational users of alpine-fed rivers.

ECan duty flood controller Tony Boyle said less than half of the rain was expected to reach the headwaters of Canterbury rivers.

West Coast Whitebaiters Association spokesman Brian McCarthy said 500mm was a "damn lot of rain".

"Nearly all whitebaiters, by the weather report, know to tie down their gear."

West Coast Regional Council resource scientist Jonny Horrox said Coasters were bracing themselves for a "decent" rainfall.

"We haven't had a lot of rain in the last week or so. Things are pretty dry, which gives us a bit of a buffer."

Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay said the forecast rainfall looked promising for the hydro lakes, "but we don't count our chickens before they hatch".

Inland Otago and Southland recorded high winds yesterday, with gusts of 120km/h whipping over Central Otago's Rock and Pillar Range.

To A3 From A1

Tourism company Real Journeys cancelled three boat trips in Milford Sound and on Lake Te Anau yesterday because of the winds.

Part of the Milford Road, State Highway 94 between Milford Sound and Te Anau, closed at 5pm last night because of forecast overnight snow and possible avalanches.

Kaikoura's monthly rainfall of 240mm was the second-highest August rainfall since records began in 1898. That included 126mm falling on August 26, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) figures show.

Hanmer Forest had a higher one-day fall, of 135mm on August 25.

Christchurch's monthly rainfall was 98mm, 150% above normal.

Niwa climate scientist Andrew Tait said the winter had been wet and stormy, but the weather should settle with a drier than normal spring.


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