Paper provides perspective on April storms

Photo: File.

A recent paper presented to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council provided some perspective on the size of the side-by-side storm events that struck the region last month.

The report notes that going in to April, the Bay of Plenty had experienced a "very wet month" of March, with rainfall up to five times the historical recorded monthly normal levels.

Soil moisture levels during March were also higher than long term averages, and had approached or exceeded soil saturation levels.

The first event, ex-Cyclone Debbie, was responsible for a large amount of rain over the entire region, with record rainfall resulting in unprecedented lake/river levels and flows across the region.

The recorded flood flows in the Whakatane River at the Valley Road gauging site were 34 per cent higher than ever recorded before, while the Rangitaiki River flows reaching the Matahina Dam were 20 per cent higher.

Around a week later, Cyclone Cook made landfall in the Bay of Plenty and subjected the region to high winds and high seas resulting in considerable damage. During Cyclone Cook, the report shows a short but significant burst of extreme wind gusts and wave heights.

Chris Ingle, Regional Council’s General Manager, Integrated Catchments, said that the report provided some useful insights.

“Our Data Services team has a network of around 130 automated monitoring stations throughout the region and they collect a huge amount of valuable environmental data," said Chris.

“This data provided invaluable insight during the events and again, now post-event, to help us understand how these events looked alongside long term trends and averages.

“It was a valuable to be able to provide this perspective to Council and the wider public.”

The most significant damage from ex-cyclone Debbie was the breach of the stopbank at Edgecumbe, causing wide-spread evacuations and damage to the township.

Both storms, in particular ex-cyclone Debbie, are the backdrop to a number of planned reviews likely to be announced over the coming weeks as organisations and the public look for answers to questions arising from these events.


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