Record rainfall floods South Otago

Oliver Glassford, of Milton, walks across the flooded Toko River bridge on Toko Mouth Rd, near Milton yesterday afternoon, while his father, Gordon, follows behind in their 4WD vehicle. Mr Glassford had been mustering and chanced the short route home, but the water, which rose steadily during the afternoon, was soon too deep for cars. Photos by Allison Rudd.
Oliver Glassford, of Milton, walks across the flooded Toko River bridge on Toko Mouth Rd, near Milton yesterday afternoon, while his father, Gordon, follows behind in their 4WD vehicle. Mr Glassford had been mustering and chanced the short route home, but the water, which rose steadily during the afternoon, was soon too deep for cars. Photos by Allison Rudd.
Heavy rain overnight on Sunday resulted in flooding in South Otago and set records.

In the 24-hour period from 10am Sunday.

MetService recorded 89.1mm of rain in Balclutha, and 63.2mm at Nugget Point.

In Roxburgh, 59.4mm fell, the same as in Oamaru City, 54.6mm fell in Dunedin City and 51.8mm fell at Cromwell.

MetService duty forecaster Sarah Sparks said the heavy rainfall was caused by an active southwest front which passed over the region.

Showers were expected to clear, but rain is possible today.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research senior climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said some rainfall set new records.

Ranfurly, with 53mm of rain from 9am Sunday to 9am yesterday, Cromwell, with 52mm, Alexandra, with 68mm, and Nugget Point, with 63mm, all became the highest one-day rainfalls for February since records began.

The Otago Regional Council reported the Dart River reached the highest flow on record - 1469cumecs - at 1am yesterday.

The previous high was 1266cumecs, recorded last year.

ORC Environmental information and science director John Threlfall said there was "considerable flooding" in parts of West and South Otago after the intense rainfall.

Some roads were impassable and large areas of farmland had surface flooding with the worst affected areas around Kelso and low-lying parts of Balclutha.

With the Clutha River expected to pass 1700cumecs at Balclutha, he predicted low-lying areas close to the river and downstream of the town would flood.

The upper Pomahaka River peaked at 454cumecs at 10am, the second-highest flow since records started in 1992.

Downstream, the Pomahaka River at Burkes Ford, and the Waitahuna River at Tweeds Bridge were in flood yesterday.

Heavy rain in the headwaters of the Waitaki catchment again raised rivers and overfilled hydro storage lakes.

Cattle in a paddock beside Barnego Rd, on the outskirts of Balclutha on the northern bank of the Clutha River, seem unperturbed by belly-high water.At noon, the Waitaki River was at 1030cumecs, rising from just over 600cumecs on Saturday.

Mt Cook recorded almost 190mm of rain yesterday, bringing the total for the past eight days to more than 460mm.

The hydro storage lakes Tekapo and Pukaki were both above maximum operating levels, causing spills down the Tekapo and Pukaki riverbeds into Lakes Benmore and Aviemore, with about 1.2m of water spilling over the Waitaki dam into the lower river.

Minor flooding was recorded around the district, with the ANZ Bank in Oamaru closed for most of the morning after rain leaked through the roof.

The Kakanui River rose rapidly from about 6cumecs to peak at 94cumecs and was falling just as quickly.

Environment Southland said the Mataura River was in flood and was expected to peak 3.5m above normal at Gore between 4am-5am this morning, and to be about 3.8m above normal at Wyndham about 11am.

The Waikaia River peaked at Piano Flat at 2.5m above normal at 3.40pm yesterday while the Makarewa River was predicted to peak about 4.3m above normal at Counsell Rd, near SH6, about 5am today.

The New Zealand Transport Agency reported widespread flooding in northwest Southland forcing the closure of State Highway 90 near Tapanui.

Two slips on the Haast Pass Highway, one southwest of Makarora and another west of the summit, closed the Haast Pass Highway yesterday morning before the slips were cleared by the afternoon.

The agency is asking motorists to take care on the highway as repair work was being done

Wet, wet, wet
24-hour rainfall from 9am Sunday to 9am Monday

Ranfurly 53mm, highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1943.

Dunedin airport 54mm, third-highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1962.

Cromwell 52mm, highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1949.

Alexandra 68mm, highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1983.

Balclutha, Telford, 73mm, second highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1964.

Nugget Point 63 mm, highest one-day rainfall for February since records began in 1930.

Source: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research