Wettest winter in ten years

McLaren Falls after a heavy burst of rain. Photo: Alice Campbell.

This is one of the wettest Bay of Plenty winters in a decade, according to data from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s weather stations.

A network of around 130 automated monitoring stations throughout the region collects a huge amount of environmental data, including rainfall, which is well above what is considered normal for the calendar year.

Some readings are close to double the normal rainfall.

In the Western Bay of Plenty, the Kaituna rain gauge at Te Matai is 196 per cent of normal. In the Rotorua area the gauge at Whakarewarewa is 193 per cent of normal, and Lake Rotoiti at Okawa Bay 180 per cent of normal. The Rotorua lakes are at historically high levels.

While there is little the council can do about the wet, having the data is helpful for planning, says regional council general manager of integrated catchments Chris Ingle.

“Most of us feel like there has been much more rain than usual this year and the data backs us up on that,” says Chris. “It has been an incredibly wet winter.

“The groundwater experts in the council are telling me the groundwater aquifers are fully charged, to the point new springs are popping up in completely new locations or in places that we haven’t seen for decades.

“We can’t control the weather, but knowing this helps us plan accordingly. And it can help others as well, particularly the rural communities.

“We are asking farmers to take care to keep grazing on stopbanks to a minimum to avoid damaging our community assets with pugging and erosion.

“We are getting a number of reports of farmers moving stock to stopbanks for long periods to avoid low-lying and wet areas of their farms. This can cause damage to the structures and a weakness where the soil has been damaged.

“Our teams are still working incredibly hard on emergency works identified following the April flooding and we have a list of more than 500 repairs jobs across the river schemes that are being costed and prioritised. But we are not able to do many of our physical works simply because the ground is too wet,” says Chris.

The public can see more details on the current wet weather on the council’s live monitoring site.

Regional rain gauges are recording record rainfall. Supplied photo.

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Posted on 09-08-2017 13:41 | By Paps 1