NZ Historic Weather Events Catalog

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February 1971 Taranaki Flooding ( 1971-02-24 )

After 30 hours of continuous heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in New Plymouth and Waitara.

Taranaki

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at Taranaki
Duration:   3  days - After 30 hours of continuous rainfall, rivers and streams struggled to cope with the deluge. Flooding lasted from the 24th to the 26th of February.
Comments:

CauseA low developed just south of Norfolk Island on the 21st, to the south of a weak tropical depression. The low then moved southwards while deepening, with northeast flow developing over the North Island. Frontogenesis then occurred west of North Island, downstream from a strong upper trough in the Tasman Sea. The tropical depression had played a role in bringing very warm and moist air down into New Zealand latitudes, and strong ascent was occurring within warm conveyor belt over Taranaki. Rain was associated with sharp upper-level trough. The frontal band gradually weakened during the 24th, but remained quite slow-moving, and rain continued in Taranaki until it finally moved off on the morning of the 25th. The blocked nature of the situation was also very important.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicEast Egmont Mountain House recorded 408 mm (40.8 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThere was severe flooding in Taranaki, especially in the New Plymouth and Waitotara districts, on the 24th February 1971.

Affected LifelineSeveral North Taranaki communities including Waitara, Brixton, Lepperton and Okato were without water.

Affected LifelineThe rail service from New Plymouth to Stratford was halted by flooding.

Affected LifelineThere were slips and wash outs on the line between Stratford and Whangamomona.

Insurance ClaimEQC claims totalled $17,500,000 in 1994 ($24,800,000 2009 dollars).

Affected LifelineBack country roads were cut by slips, wrecked bridges and floodwaters.

ImpactFlooding and subsequent disruption of bus services closed schools from north of Stratford to Urenui.

DamageFloodwaters tore down fences, deposited huge logs on pasture and covered the land with a layer of silt.

CommentThe worst affected North Taranaki areas were the foothills and inland country districts of Mt Messenger, including Uruti, Okoki, Tikorangi, Waitui, Tarata and Purangi.

Affected LifelineMany families in Central Taranaki, east of Stratford are still isolated by slips and floodwaters on the 26th.

Affected LifelineState Highway 43 east from Stratford was closed.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

DamageStrathmore and Douglas was hard hit by the floods. Slips destroyed hundreds of acres of farmland. Scarred hills showed where hundreds of acres of land had fallen away.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Ararata
Map Location: -39.51035 174.37644
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicArarata recorded 173 mm (17.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Bell Block
Map Location: -39.030626 174.145623
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicBell Block recorded 329 mm (32.9 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of over 150 years).

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Hawera
Map Location: -39.586876 174.27571
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicHawera recorded 6.06 in (15.4 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Huiroa
Map Location: -39.24822 174.4711
Comments:

Affected LifelineMakuri and Gordon Road was under water.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Inglewood
Map Location: -39.163073 174.187246
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicInglewood recorded 13.11 in (33.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Lepperton
Map Location: -39.06323 174.21172
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicLepperton recorded 372 mm (37.2 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

ImpactThere was flooding at Lepperton by Waiongana River.

FloodingFlooding at Makakaho Junction
Map Location: -39.58655 174.83691
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicMakakaho Stream was was 9.1 metres above normal at Makakaho Junction.

FloodingFlooding at Manawapou River
Map Location: -39.66451 174.33955
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicManawapou River rose 6 metres.

LandslideLandslide at Mount Messenger
Map Location: -38.89383 174.59454
Comments:

ImpactThere were slips on Mt Messenger.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at New Plymouth
Map Location: -39.051214 174.06972
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicNew Plymouth recorded 290 mm (29.0 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of over 150 years).

Physical CharacteristicNew Plymouth Airport recorded 329 mm (32.9 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThe flooding in the city was reported to be the worst in living memory.

Declared EmergencySix blocks of the city centre was under a state of emergency. A Civil Defence Emergency was declared in New Plymouth on the 24th and 25th.

Physical CharacteristicHuatoki and Mangaotuku Streams rose 4.5 metres.

Affected LifelineAll the main routes in and out of New Plymouth were closed by flooding, washouts and slips.

EvacueesShop owners and staff on Devon Street were evacuated on the 24th. Six blocks of the city centre were evacuated.

DamageThere was structural damage to shop floors. Stock was lost, ruined or damaged.

ImpactHouses were invaded by floodwaters in Weymouth, Clawton and Gaine Street.

Affected LifelineThe northern apporach to the Awanui Street bridge was washed away. Te Henui Stream washed out tonnes of soil and roading material leaving gap in road 300 sq feet (28 sq metres) and hole 35 ft (10.7 m) deep.

Affected LifelineWater pipes were broken by floodwaters.

ImpactTunnels and culverts under central New Plymouth could not cope Huatoki and Mangaotuku Streams. Tidal wave of rushing water burst over lower Devon Street.

ImpactThe New Plymouth Boys' High Schools boat shed and the Clifton Rowing Club' shed were almost completely covered by floodwaters and the boats broken.

DamageConcrete water and stormwater pipes were broken off and kerbing channelling and pavement work was washed away.

ImpactFlooding in the town reached a peak and was up to the top of the parking meters.

Affected LifelineTelephones out of order for approximately 500 subscribers in New Plymouth.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Okato
Map Location: -39.191267 173.871121
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicOkato recorded 177 mm (17.7 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Physical CharacteristicTimaru Road in Otako recorded 171 mm (17.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Patea River
Map Location: -39.37928 174.43599
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPatea River rose 5.4 metres.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Pukearuhe
Map Location: -38.89401 174.50618
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPukearuhe recorded 133 mm (13.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Stratford
Map Location: -39.343721 174.267614
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicStratford Mountain House recorded 795 mm (79.5 cm) of rain in two days. The rainfall was one of highest two day rainfall amounts ever recorded in New Zealand.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Tarata
Map Location: -39.15016 174.36748
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicTarata recorded 461 mm (46.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of well over 150 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

Affected LifelineThe power station at Tarata was completely out of action.

FloodingFlooding at Urenui
Map Location: -38.997709 174.384059
Comments:

ImpactThere was flooding at Urenui by Urenui River.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Waimate West
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaimate West recorded 154 mm (15.4 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Waimea Stream
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaimea Stream rose 4.4 metres in ten hours.

FloodingFlooding at Waitara
Map Location: -38.99656 174.213734
Comments:

ImpactWater flowed into the Waitara shopping centre.

EvacueesSeveral families were evacuated from Queen, Grey, Dommett and Parris Streets.

ImpactThe flood snuck in through the edges of an uncompleted bank.

ImpactKaraka Flats flooded.

Stock DamageSome stock drowned.

Affected LifelineWaitara Bridge was closed which severed the Taranaki main link with the north and south and divided the town. The bridge was declared unsafe as floodwaters hurtled logs at the piles of the bridge.

EvacueesMany houses close to the river on the New Plymouth side had water washing through them and several families were evacuated.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

Property DamageA landslide caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and isolated a farm in Waitara. The landslide was several acres in extent and completely wiped out la arge farm shed, tractors and cars.

Affected LifelineThere were several big slips on Otaraoa Road which isolated farms.

ImpactWwide areas were covered with water, metres high.

FloodingFlooding at Waitotara
Map Location: -39.80567 174.72609
Comments:

CommentWaitotara Valley was hit by the worst flood in 35 years.

Affected LifelineWater covered the road in 30 places.

Affected LifelineTelephone lines were brought down by the floodwaters.

FloodingFlooding at Waiwhakaiho River
Map Location: -39.202437 174.127733
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaiwhakaiho River rose six metres at the main northern outlet.

References

McDonald, R.(1982) FLOOD EVENTS IN TARANAKI, PART A: HISTORICAL INDEX, Taranaki Catchment Commission, Stratford, New Zealand, 49p.
Meteorological Observations for 1971, Stations in New Zealand and Outlying Islands, Including the Cook Group. New Zealand Meteorological Service.
New Zealand's Nature Hertiage, Hamlyn House, Auckland, Volume 6, Great Storms
NZ Met Service. (2008). Meteorology of Extreme Rainfalls in New Zealand (Mark Pascoe, Ed.).
Headline: Landslide
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: New Plymouth's Worst Flood
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: The Weather
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: Waitara Hard Hit
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: Pumping out, hosing down, mopping out
Taranaki Herald, 26 February 1971.

February 1971 Taranaki Flooding ( 1971-02-24 )

After 30 hours of continuous heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in New Plymouth and Waitara.

Taranaki

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at Taranaki
Duration:   3  days - After 30 hours of continuous rainfall, rivers and streams struggled to cope with the deluge. Flooding lasted from the 24th to the 26th of February.
Comments:

CauseA low developed just south of Norfolk Island on the 21st, to the south of a weak tropical depression. The low then moved southwards while deepening, with northeast flow developing over the North Island. Frontogenesis then occurred west of North Island, downstream from a strong upper trough in the Tasman Sea. The tropical depression had played a role in bringing very warm and moist air down into New Zealand latitudes, and strong ascent was occurring within warm conveyor belt over Taranaki. Rain was associated with sharp upper-level trough. The frontal band gradually weakened during the 24th, but remained quite slow-moving, and rain continued in Taranaki until it finally moved off on the morning of the 25th. The blocked nature of the situation was also very important.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicEast Egmont Mountain House recorded 408 mm (40.8 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThere was severe flooding in Taranaki, especially in the New Plymouth and Waitotara districts, on the 24th February 1971.

Affected LifelineSeveral North Taranaki communities including Waitara, Brixton, Lepperton and Okato were without water.

Affected LifelineThe rail service from New Plymouth to Stratford was halted by flooding.

Affected LifelineThere were slips and wash outs on the line between Stratford and Whangamomona.

Insurance ClaimEQC claims totalled $17,500,000 in 1994 ($24,800,000 2009 dollars).

Affected LifelineBack country roads were cut by slips, wrecked bridges and floodwaters.

ImpactFlooding and subsequent disruption of bus services closed schools from north of Stratford to Urenui.

DamageFloodwaters tore down fences, deposited huge logs on pasture and covered the land with a layer of silt.

CommentThe worst affected North Taranaki areas were the foothills and inland country districts of Mt Messenger, including Uruti, Okoki, Tikorangi, Waitui, Tarata and Purangi.

Affected LifelineMany families in Central Taranaki, east of Stratford are still isolated by slips and floodwaters on the 26th.

Affected LifelineState Highway 43 east from Stratford was closed.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

DamageStrathmore and Douglas was hard hit by the floods. Slips destroyed hundreds of acres of farmland. Scarred hills showed where hundreds of acres of land had fallen away.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Ararata
Map Location: -39.51035 174.37644
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicArarata recorded 173 mm (17.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Bell Block
Map Location: -39.030626 174.145623
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicBell Block recorded 329 mm (32.9 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of over 150 years).

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Hawera
Map Location: -39.586876 174.27571
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicHawera recorded 6.06 in (15.4 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Huiroa
Map Location: -39.24822 174.4711
Comments:

Affected LifelineMakuri and Gordon Road was under water.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Inglewood
Map Location: -39.163073 174.187246
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicInglewood recorded 13.11 in (33.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Lepperton
Map Location: -39.06323 174.21172
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicLepperton recorded 372 mm (37.2 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

ImpactThere was flooding at Lepperton by Waiongana River.

FloodingFlooding at Makakaho Junction
Map Location: -39.58655 174.83691
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicMakakaho Stream was was 9.1 metres above normal at Makakaho Junction.

FloodingFlooding at Manawapou River
Map Location: -39.66451 174.33955
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicManawapou River rose 6 metres.

LandslideLandslide at Mount Messenger
Map Location: -38.89383 174.59454
Comments:

ImpactThere were slips on Mt Messenger.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at New Plymouth
Map Location: -39.051214 174.06972
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicNew Plymouth recorded 290 mm (29.0 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of over 150 years).

Physical CharacteristicNew Plymouth Airport recorded 329 mm (32.9 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThe flooding in the city was reported to be the worst in living memory.

Declared EmergencySix blocks of the city centre was under a state of emergency. A Civil Defence Emergency was declared in New Plymouth on the 24th and 25th.

Physical CharacteristicHuatoki and Mangaotuku Streams rose 4.5 metres.

Affected LifelineAll the main routes in and out of New Plymouth were closed by flooding, washouts and slips.

EvacueesShop owners and staff on Devon Street were evacuated on the 24th. Six blocks of the city centre were evacuated.

DamageThere was structural damage to shop floors. Stock was lost, ruined or damaged.

ImpactHouses were invaded by floodwaters in Weymouth, Clawton and Gaine Street.

Affected LifelineThe northern apporach to the Awanui Street bridge was washed away. Te Henui Stream washed out tonnes of soil and roading material leaving gap in road 300 sq feet (28 sq metres) and hole 35 ft (10.7 m) deep.

Affected LifelineWater pipes were broken by floodwaters.

ImpactTunnels and culverts under central New Plymouth could not cope Huatoki and Mangaotuku Streams. Tidal wave of rushing water burst over lower Devon Street.

ImpactThe New Plymouth Boys' High Schools boat shed and the Clifton Rowing Club' shed were almost completely covered by floodwaters and the boats broken.

DamageConcrete water and stormwater pipes were broken off and kerbing channelling and pavement work was washed away.

ImpactFlooding in the town reached a peak and was up to the top of the parking meters.

Affected LifelineTelephones out of order for approximately 500 subscribers in New Plymouth.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Okato
Map Location: -39.191267 173.871121
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicOkato recorded 177 mm (17.7 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Physical CharacteristicTimaru Road in Otako recorded 171 mm (17.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Patea River
Map Location: -39.37928 174.43599
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPatea River rose 5.4 metres.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Pukearuhe
Map Location: -38.89401 174.50618
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPukearuhe recorded 133 mm (13.3 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Stratford
Map Location: -39.343721 174.267614
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicStratford Mountain House recorded 795 mm (79.5 cm) of rain in two days. The rainfall was one of highest two day rainfall amounts ever recorded in New Zealand.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Tarata
Map Location: -39.15016 174.36748
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicTarata recorded 461 mm (46.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours (which has a return period of well over 150 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

Affected LifelineThe power station at Tarata was completely out of action.

FloodingFlooding at Urenui
Map Location: -38.997709 174.384059
Comments:

ImpactThere was flooding at Urenui by Urenui River.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Waimate West
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaimate West recorded 154 mm (15.4 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding at Waimea Stream
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaimea Stream rose 4.4 metres in ten hours.

FloodingFlooding at Waitara
Map Location: -38.99656 174.213734
Comments:

ImpactWater flowed into the Waitara shopping centre.

EvacueesSeveral families were evacuated from Queen, Grey, Dommett and Parris Streets.

ImpactThe flood snuck in through the edges of an uncompleted bank.

ImpactKaraka Flats flooded.

Stock DamageSome stock drowned.

Affected LifelineWaitara Bridge was closed which severed the Taranaki main link with the north and south and divided the town. The bridge was declared unsafe as floodwaters hurtled logs at the piles of the bridge.

EvacueesMany houses close to the river on the New Plymouth side had water washing through them and several families were evacuated.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

Property DamageA landslide caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and isolated a farm in Waitara. The landslide was several acres in extent and completely wiped out la arge farm shed, tractors and cars.

Affected LifelineThere were several big slips on Otaraoa Road which isolated farms.

ImpactWwide areas were covered with water, metres high.

FloodingFlooding at Waitotara
Map Location: -39.80567 174.72609
Comments:

CommentWaitotara Valley was hit by the worst flood in 35 years.

Affected LifelineWater covered the road in 30 places.

Affected LifelineTelephone lines were brought down by the floodwaters.

FloodingFlooding at Waiwhakaiho River
Map Location: -39.202437 174.127733
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWaiwhakaiho River rose six metres at the main northern outlet.

References

McDonald, R.(1982) FLOOD EVENTS IN TARANAKI, PART A: HISTORICAL INDEX, Taranaki Catchment Commission, Stratford, New Zealand, 49p.
Meteorological Observations for 1971, Stations in New Zealand and Outlying Islands, Including the Cook Group. New Zealand Meteorological Service.
New Zealand's Nature Hertiage, Hamlyn House, Auckland, Volume 6, Great Storms
NZ Met Service. (2008). Meteorology of Extreme Rainfalls in New Zealand (Mark Pascoe, Ed.).
Headline: Landslide
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: New Plymouth's Worst Flood
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: The Weather
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: Waitara Hard Hit
Taranaki Herald, 25 February 1971.
Headline: Pumping out, hosing down, mopping out
Taranaki Herald, 26 February 1971.