Flood warnings issued for Canterbury rivers

Canterbury landowners are being advised to monitor their situation as rivers rise across the region.
Canterbury landowners are being advised to monitor their situation as rivers rise across the region.

Canterbury landowners are being urged to stay wary as heavy rain causes rivers to rise across the region.

In a flood warning issued on Saturday evening, Environment Canterbury says the heavy rain has been falling along the main divide and extending some foothill river catchments since Friday evening.

The warning said the rain had eased for Central and South Canterbury but but had moved to, and ongoing, in North Canterbury.

Many rivers were rising particularly in South and Central Canterbury.

* A large tree has fallen onto parked cars by Christchurch's Hagley Park
* South Canterbury misses the worst of a serious weather event so far
* Alpine rain prompts flooding worry for South Canterbury rivers

Heavy rain is causing rivers to rise.
Rosa Woods/Stuff
Heavy rain is causing rivers to rise.

“We are seeing considerable erosion damage in some rivers and this could continue in this event. Some out of river flows have occurred in some areas and could develop across other farmland as the event continues,” the warning said.

The north branch of the Ashburton River has peaked and there has been some flooding on farmland with landowners advised to monitor their situation.

At 4.51pm, the south branch of the Ashburton River appeared to be close to a peak with the possibility of “outflows” on vulnerable parts of the river affected by recent flooding.

The main branch of the Ashburton River at State Highway 1 is not expected to peak until late Saturday and remain high into Sunday morning.

Landowners adjacent to the Rangitata River “need to monitor their situations carefully and take action to protect stock and property where appropriate especially as peak flows will occur overnight”, the warning said.

Rivers bursting their banks, flash floods and more intense cyclones. How climate change is making floods more extreme.

Spill flows from Waitaki Dam are expected to rise to 850 cumecs by 6am on Sunday and between 1000 cumecs and 1200 cumecs by noon. Flooding and erosion of the lower Waitaki River margins may occur.

“Landowners need to monitor their own situations throughout Sunday and take precautionary action if needed.”

The warning comes on the same evening emergency services were called to a report of two people stuck in floodwaters just upstream of the Ashburton rail bridge.

However, a police spokesperson said it was debris in the water, not people.

Meanwhile, MetService has issued an orange heavy snow warning for inland Canterbury with 10cm to 20cm expected to fall above 300 metres on Sunday afternoon. The warning covers 15 hours from 3pm on Sunday. It comes as a cold snap is starting to set over much of the country.