Sun returns for South Canterbury

DELUGE: Surface flooding on Driscolls Road and Pleasant Point Highway has traffic reduced to travelling 50kmh through this 100kmh zone.
DELUGE: Surface flooding on Driscolls Road and Pleasant Point Highway has traffic reduced to travelling 50kmh through this 100kmh zone.

The heavy rain looks to be over for South Canterbury with MetService cancelling its severe weather warnings for the region - however the Far North may not be so lucky.

Overnight turned out to be a very much a "wait and see" situation for regional council flood controllers as they waited to see what the heavy rain bursts between 5 to 10pm would do to the district’s rivers.

And while some of the major rivers were high, they did not reach anywhere near the levels of the first flood event a fortnight ago, according to flood controller Phil Lees.

"We have been lucky, there has been no major river flooding. The rivers handled those flows very, very well. The river works staff had been very busy (dealing with any damage to the flood protection works) to keep the flood flows in the river."

While river levels were already dropping, Lees said they were likely to stay higher than usual for some time as water drained away.

If warm rain was to follow then there was likely to be considerable snow melt going into the river system.

Even though the rivers handled the flows, Lees said last night's rain was enough to produce flooding in areas near Pleasant Point which had remained dry during the previous two floods.

There are still a handful of roads closed in the Levels Plain area today and contractors are cleaning up a slip on Taiko Rd.

All going to plan Raincliff Bridge could reopen to light traffic late today, as load testing of the bridge was underway.

Timaru district's land transport manager Andrew Dixon said while the testing can be carried out, staff would have to wait until the river level fell before they could inspect the bridge's piles.

Part of the bridge slumped 200mm during the first flood a fortnight ago and it had been closed to all traffic since.

The bridge was on a school bus route and passengers had been walking across it and continuing the trip in a second bus


Meanwhile, the top of the North Island has been warned to brace for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms throughout today.

Areas affected include Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel.

Wellington could expect showers throughout the day and heavy rain overnight and tomorrow morning. "So if you come into work tomorrow morning grab your raincoat," Corbett warned.

Most of New Zealand would experience dry, clear days on Friday and Saturday, which would probably please South Islanders most of all.

Mid to South Canterbury had received a lashing over the last fortnight, with Timaru experiencing half of its annual rainfall in the last fortnight.

MetService had predicted further rain bursts from late yesterday morning through to midnight tonight which was expected to bring 30 to 60mm of rain to the Mid and South Canterbury area.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) flood controller Tony Henderson said South Canterbrians should expect significant surface flooding, but at this stage, it was keeping a close eye on the river levels.

"The MetService forecasts have been bang-on so far, so we're keeping a watching brief ," he said.

"The rivers are likely to cope alright, but there is likely to be surface flooding similar to last week."

By Monday, Timaru had received half of its annual rainfall in the last fortnight, with a further 24mm falling at Hadlow in the 24 hours to 9am.

ECan was reporting 30.5mm of rain at Hadlow over the 24-hour period ending 9pm yesterday. Following the pattern of recent weeks, the heaviest rainfall has been in the coastal area.

"Over the past two weeks the rivers have gone very well and there have been no major breakouts," Henderson said.

"The rivers have had a good cleanout (with the last couple of weeks' heavy rain) which is beneficial as they are running straight and not meandering."

With the river monitoring equipment Ecan has in place, Henderson said they should have three to four hours advance warning of heavy rain in the upper catchments that might impact on the rivers.

That should be enough time to alert local authorities and other organisations of any potential problems.

All major roads throughout South Canterbury are open, although there was flooding in low lying areas.


Inland snow continued to fall in the mountain areas. Mt Dobson, Mt Hutt and Roundhill ski areas were closed again today as it was still snowing.

The fields had all received around 5ocm in the last 24 hours, with MetService predicting snow will continue to fall until tomorrow.

The heavier rain mid-afternoon was enough to close several roads on the Levels Plain in the Timaru district early last night.

Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said he had fielded several calls yesterday from people flooded in the Kerrytown- Naughton Rd area.

There was nothing the council could do, he said, as the roads were lower than the river in that area.

The Timaru Herald