A storm has ripped through the North Island uprooting trees, killing power across Auckland and sending trampolines airborne. Here’s the Spinoff roundup of everything essential
There’s nothing like weather chat to bring strangers and acquaintances together, and today the water cooler conversations will be going off. Except, of course, that many people won’t be at their water coolers today. Because of the extremely heavy rain and high winds, authorities are warning against any unnecessary travel. And we’d like to think that includes any travel to work for those who aren’t paramedics or the people who repair power lines.
Just how much wind and rain are we talking about? Metservice forecasts a huge amount of rain will get dumped on Auckland between 10-4 today, a very steady stream on Wellington across the day, and a mid-morning drenching for Christchurch. Wellington is also going to get average wind speeds up into the 30s and 40s (so, kinda standard really) There’s also severe weather warnings for Taranaki, Whanganui, the Hawkes Bay and Taihape.
And how about those tornadoes yesterday? Bloody hell, neither National Park nor Rahotū in Taranaki look all that flash after being blitzkrieged by twisters. Some houses suffered severe damage, but fortunately many of the houses in National Park were unoccupied when it was hit, including one unoccupied building that was outright destroyed.
A huge number of power outages have been reported in Auckland – at last count, more than 120,000 homes and businesses are without power. Vector says it might be several days before power is fully restored across Auckland. They say their crews worked on damaged power lines through the night, which let’s face it, must have been a pretty miserable time.
— Bike Auckland (@BikeAKL) April 10, 2018
Chorus also have a regularly updating map of outages to their network, which means if you still have a landline, it might be unusable. There are also multiple mobile outages across Auckland. If all of your power, wifi and phone lines aren’t usable, we absolutely do not recommend you make up for lack of communication options with carrier pigeons. The poor things will get absolutely buffeted in these gales. Try writing a letter, putting it in a waterproof envelope, standing outside and just throwing it up in the air – eventually the wind should carry it to the right destination.
Dozens of flights were re-routed or cancelled last night at the peak of the storm, and that disruption continues into today. Air NZ is advising that if possible you should defer your travel, and “a flexibility policy is in place for flights booked prior to Wednesday April 11 for travel within New Zealand”. More info here.
So, one question a few people are asking: Where the hell did this storm come from? Where were the warnings about a ‘weather bomb’ or a ‘bomb low’ or some other term forecasters come up with to make rain sexy? Well, in fairness, there were various news stories in the lead up to this storm warning it was going to come – such as this beautifully headlined job from Radio NZ which included a line about a cold front at the start of this week. But forecaster Philip Duncan issued a mea culpa this morning, saying it had taken even him by surprise how serious it turned out to be, and that he’d review his processes. Metservice stood by the watches it issued, and said it couldn’t have done any more to warn people about the coming storm. But could they have at least come up with a pithy name for it to grab media attention? I say, yes.
And the other thing. 1000 warnings about Gita. Fart in a bottle. But this was terrifying and I’m from Wellington – I know wind! Be prepared is the catchphrase. However no one answers @AklCouncil phones. So not THAT prepared. However my letterbox survives again! #Auckland pic.twitter.com/Xk7NVqHWoJ
— Denise Montgomery (@MontyWrites) April 10, 2018
There have been some concerns that Auckland authorities generally weren’t quick enough off the mark here – old mate Duncan Garner described the response as “disorganised as fuck,” (my conspiracy theory was that he was trying to deflect SEO traffic from the other time “as fuck” has been used recently) Auckland Civil Defence put out a joint release with Auckland Council at 10.20 am this morning, which if you were commuting to work, is not great. Then again, it’s eleven o’clock and we’re only just getting this out. So we can hardly talk.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.