The city has already received 90% of its average rainfall for the year, and more heavy downfalls could be on their way this month, writes Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
More flooding could be around the corner, Aucklanders warned
As Tāmaki Makaurau begins to dry out this morning, many in the city are wondering how many more times they’ll face flooding this year, while others are breathing a sigh of relief that yesterday’s deluge wasn’t worse. The weather warnings have been lifted but the state of emergency remains in place, and there is still a risk that waterways will rise further as groundwater makes its way downhill. Yesterday parts of north Auckland saw torrential downpours of 40-50mm per hour, while Te Pai Park weather station in Henderson recorded 91.5mm of rain by 2pm – to put that into perspective, the city’s average monthly rainfall for the entire month of May is about 115mm. Metservice meteorologist Georgia Griffiths notes that Auckland had already received 90% of its average annual rainfall in the first third of this year, and Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino thinks the risk of further flooding this autumn is high. “We probably will get another one – I’m not sure if it’ll be like this – but certainly, the odds for heavy rain look to be higher around late May and early June,” he tells the NZ Herald.
Body of missing Whangārei student found
The body of a student missing after being swept away by floodwaters on a school caving trip was recovered late last night. Questions are being raised over Whangārei Boys’ High School’s decision to go ahead with the underground caving expedition when a heavy rain warning was already in place. “The school’s standard operating procedures, posted on its website, stated the teacher in charge of the trip would check the weather periodically during the days leading up to a school trip,” Stuff’s Blair Ensor and Melanie Earley report. “On the morning of the trip [the teacher does] a final weather check so they can make an informed decision whether the weather is suitable for the trip,” the website reads. The class had originally been scheduled to do rock climbing, but the activity was changed to caving due to forecast rain, according to an email to parents obtained by Stuff. School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith has promised “a full and comprehensive investigation” of the circumstances around the trip but says for now their focus is on supporting students and the wider school community.
Firefighters union criticises slow response times from management
Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) received more than 300 weather-related calls for help between 8am and 6pm on Tuesday, the vast majority of them in Auckland. Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick has expressed her concern that frontline firefighters had made a request to stand up a “heavy rescue team” on Monday night, but weren’t given the go-ahead until 10.30am on Tuesday. Firefighters’ Union Auckland secretary Martin Campbell told Stuff he was frustrated that firefighters “constantly have to play catch-up in emergency events”, and that “once again, our teams have been left chasing their tails.” Meanwhile Auckland mayor Wayne Brown arrived home from Sydney last night and will assume responsibility for the state of local emergency, having delegated his powers to deputy Desley Simpson while he was out of the country.
Bay of Plenty rivers to reach warning levels today
Yesterday’s wild weather brought flooding, slips and numerous road closures to the Bay of Plenty, and the regional council says it expects water levels will continue to rise today. The Whakatāne, Rangitāiki, Kaituna, Waioeka and Otara rivers are expected to reach first warning level this morning and several rivers are expected to reach warning level two by the end of the day. Rotorua recorded 65mm of rain between 3pm and 5pm, and power was cut to 1080 properties in the Tauranga suburb of Tauriko for around four hours last night.