Mt Cook Village takes rain honours
Mt Cook Village recorded the country's rainiest day last month but it was the heavy winds which were the focus of the rest of South Canterbury.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) meteorologist Richard Turner said Mt Cook village recorded 253mm of rain on September 10, and 496mm for the month, well above its average of 355mm.
Department of Conservation community relations ranger Shirley Slatter said the rain on September 10 was so bad staff had to sandbag the visitors' centre at Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park.
However, Dr Turner said the rest of South Canterbury was drier than normal, and "the big story for the month was the heavy wind" on September 10 and 11.
"It wasn't just the strength of the winds - which were a one-in-30-year event for most of the region - but the extent of the damage. I didn't expect so many irrigators to be damaged, or so many trees to topple."
On September 10 and 11, wind gusts in excess of 100kmh in Timaru, and over 120kmh in the Mackenzie and Waimate districts, cut power to more than 1000 South Canterbury customers.
Dr Turner said the "unusually chaotic" winds were caused by isobars tightly packed together, with a strong lee-way over the Southern Alps leading to a "highly turbulent" wind system. He estimated it was the region's most damaging winds in more than 30 years.
"We saw the system coming through a day or so before. We expected it to be pretty bad ... but I think a lot of the trees and irrigators which would ordinarily stand up to a heavy wind were weakened by the sheer force of it," Dr Turner said.
South Canterbury fire crews responded to more than 100 calls on September 10 and 11.
Last month, Timaru recorded 25mm, well below its seasonal average of 37mm, while Waimate recorded only 19mm of rain (monthly average 36mm).
Of the six main centres, Auckland was the warmest, Christchurch was the coolest, driest, and sunniest, and Hamilton was the wettest and cloudiest.
- © Fairfax NZ News