Weather misery continues, concern over rivers

A train carrying milk powder from Edendale to Dunedin remains stranded at Henley after the main...
A train carrying milk powder from Edendale to Dunedin remains stranded at Henley after the main line further north was flooded at the weekend. A KiwiRail spokesman said the train would remain in place until the flooding receded.
MetService is warning there is a possibility of thunderstorms, hail and localised downpours in Central Otago, eastern areas from North Otago to Clutha, and Southland (north of Gore) tomorrow afternoon.

A heavy rain watch is in place for those areas from noon until midnight tomorrow.

A spokesman said a heavy rain warning was also in place for South Westland and inland parts of the lower South Island.

"Further showers are expected, which may have a greater than normal impact due to the recent heavy rains.

"These showers may be accompanied by thunderstorms, hail and localised downpours are possible.

"People are advised to stay up to date in case any changes are made."

The Otago Regional Council said the rain could may have a greater-than-normal impact owing to the current high river levels in most of the region.

ORC duty flood officer Jean-Luc Payan said this afternoon flows in the Manuherekia, Taieri, and Pomahaka catchments, as well as rivers in the North Otago area, were most likely to be affected.

He said staff were continuing to monitor rivers and rainfall around the clock, while the river engineering team had been assessing immediate needs for removal of debris, with a focus on Patearoa and Middlemarch.

Engineering staff and contractors have also continued to monitor the breached Taieri River floodbank near Otokia.

Miserable weather continues

Otago was hit by more heavy rain yesterday as the recent spell of miserable weather continued.

Between 20mm and 40mm of rain fell in about five hours around parts of Central Otago, North Otago and Dunedin, causing surface flooding and minor damage in some areas.

Many businesses in Gordon Rd, Mosgiel, received minor flooding when drains became inundated by a mid-afternoon downpour.

Aurora Cafe owner Alan Carey said water was flowing in his front door and others along the street.

"It was all over in an hour. By the time we got the sand bags out, it was receding.

"We’ve just got a wee bit of wet carpet and we had to shut a couple of hours early."

Dunedin City Council staff and contractors remain on standby, ready to respond if needed.

Residents concerned about their properties have been urged to sandbag as a precaution.

Sandbag collection sites have been set up again at the Dunedin Ice Stadium, Mosgiel Memorial Park and Strath Taieri Community Hall.

Fonterra would move the milk powder from the train on to trucks for delivery to Dunedin, he said....
Fonterra would move the milk powder from the train on to trucks for delivery to Dunedin, he said. PHOTOS: GERARD O’BRIEN

Rivers remained high across much of the rest of Otago, but most had receded and were not expected to rise significantly last night.

Ahead of the expected rainfall, ORC engineering and operations staff and contractors worked at pace, alongside local authorities, to clear debris and blockages, with a focus on Middlemarch and the Maniototo.

At the Taieri River floodbank, near Otokia, the breach was stabilised and monitoring would continue, an ORC spokeswoman said.

"An investigation of the cause of the breach, including hydraulic modelling, is under way to assist with impact assessment and further stabilisation works."

NZ Transport Agency contractors worked overtime to reopen most South Island highways affected by this week’s massive downpours.

NZTA lower South Island transport systems manager Graeme Hall said the only routes which remained closed were State Highway 82, between Kurow and Ikawai, and SH83 between Otematata and Aviemore.

"Work is progressing well at both of these sites, and we’re aiming to have both roads reopened by the weekend.

"The damage on SH83 will require reconstruction of the roadway approaching the Parsons Creek Bridge near Otematata, and while there is some rain in the forecast over the next few days, we’ll be pulling out all the stops to get the job done before the weekend."

Mr Hall reminded drivers speed restrictions remained in place at several sites on the state highway network where flood repairs had been carried out.

On a brighter note, keen cleaners may be able to get some washing dried today and tomorrow morning.

But a MetService spokesman said cold air at upper levels would move on to the South Island tomorrow afternoon, making the atmosphere "unstable" again.

"Heavy showers, thunderstorms, hail and localised downpours are possible in some regions from Thursday to Sunday, especially where winds converge."

He urged residents to keep up-to-date with local forecasts and the thunderstorm outlook in the coming days.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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