More rain than Cyclone Bola

Every day Albert Chan, 70, monitors the weather in west Auckland. At the weekend he took some exceptional readings.

Chan with his cylinder for measuring rain, and his thermometer screen.
SIMON SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Chan with his cylinder for measuring rain, and his thermometer screen.

Could you explain what you do with your weather station?

I do daily readings, taking maximum and minimum temperatures and also the grass minimum, just in case there's any frost. I also record the daily rainfall. I take all my measurements at 9am, not midnight like the current computer stations. I also measure the humidity at that time.

How are you connected with other weather stations?

I connect with the NIWA weather network, along with more than 300 other observers around the country, most of us are volunteers. 

Are there many such stations in west Auckland?

There's quite a few, but they are not all NIWA ones. 

The weather station's rain gauge.
SIMON SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

The weather station's rain gauge.

What did you notice with weather at the weekend, March 11-12?

It was very wet, with localised heavy falls in some suburbs, mainly in west Auckland. On Sunday I had 61.6 millimetres, and most of it fell from 10.30am to midday. But in the 24-hour period to Saturday morning, I recorded 105.8mm of rainfall. My previous record for March was in 1988, when I recorded 85.7mm. That would have been Cyclone Bola. 

When did you start doing this?

I started on my current property in 1974 and take the measurements every day, although I missed a month back in June 2008 because we went overseas. Before then I was doing it from 1962 to 1968 at Mum's place before I went flatting. It takes no more than 10 minutes every morning. I built my house here because I knew that in this valley in north Henderson I'd get extreme temperatures.

Is it expensive to set up?

I don't know – I've been using the same thermometers since 1972, when I had to change to degrees celsius from fahrenheit.

Albert Chan records his daily readings in his field book.
SIMON SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Albert Chan records his daily readings in his field book.

Have you noticed any changes over time that you think might be due to climate change?

The summer temperature is not as high as it used to be. We are now struggling to get 28 degrees plus, in the last five years. In winter we seem to be getting less frost, it's not so severe. We seem to be getting a more moderate climate.

What are the extremes you have recorded?

My highest daily rainfall was 114.4mm in December 1988. It must have been a wet year that year. I've only recorded three 100mm plus since 1974. My wettest month was July 1998 when I recorded 380.3mm. The driest month was 5.2mm in February 2007. My highest temperature was 33.1 degrees in February 1998 when we had 10 days of 30 degrees plus. The coldest was minus 5 degrees in July 1982. The heaviest frost was minus 8.9 degrees in June 1994.

Why do you this?

It started off as a hobby back when I was at school. I used to go down to the weather office in Mechanics Bay and that's what got me interested. I also used to draw the weather maps for the New Zealand Herald back then. Every time there's a big downpour I like to know how much rain fell in a short amount of time. You never know what you are going to get. I thought this was going to be a dry month after the first week but then six days later we have more rain than I've ever recorded at this stage in March.

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Chan's data shows heavy rainfall readings on March 11 and 12, 2017.
SIMON SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Chan's data shows heavy rainfall readings on March 11 and 12, 2017.

 - Stuff

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