NZ Historic Weather Events Catalog

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February 1985 Auckland and Waikato Flooding ( 1985-02-16 )

20-100 years

Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in Auckland and Waikato. A Civil Defence Emergency was declared for Thames Borough and Thames Valley Region. Severe damage was done in Te Aroha and the Thames area. Three people were killed and one injured when a torrent of debris overwhelmed a house in Te Aroha, and and a woman was drowned at Waiomu.

North Island

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Duration:   2  days - From the 16th to the 17th of February.
Comments:

CauseWarm moist air from a high pressue zone was clashing with a low pressure trough to produce a broad band of rain. A characteristic north-east flow and frontal passage, but the gradients were not unusually strong. Convection caused an unstable spillover situation, where maximum rainfalls occur on the lee side of the ranges.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

CommentIt was a 100 year event at 1% of New Zealand rain gauge sites.

Auckland

FloodingFlooding at Auckland
Comments:

CommentFlooding was experienced in parts of Auckland on the 16th and 17th.

CommentThe south-east area of Auckland was the most affected - Franklin County, Manukau, Papakura, Waiheke Island and Howick.

ImpactMany houses were flooded.

CommentThe effects of the flood may have been elevated due to the extent of the dry conditions preceeding it.

LandslideLandslide at Hunua Ranges
Map Location: -37.075086 175.180301
Comments:

DamageConsiderable damage was done by erosion to land west of and including the Hunuas. Soil slipping occurred.

FloodingFlooding at Manakau Harbour
Map Location: -37.054357 174.730384
Comments:

Affected LifelineWards bridge in Manakau was damaged beyond repair.

Damage CostThe estimated cost of replacement for Wards bridge was $150,000 ($370,000 2008 dollars).

FloodingFlooding at Papakura
Map Location: -37.069598 174.946724
Comments:

Evacuees15 houses were evacuated at Papakura.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Pukekohe
Map Location: -37.206561 174.898162
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPukekohe recorded 166 mm (16.6 cm) of rain in 24 hours (Return Period 50 years).

LandslideLandslide at Waiheke Island
Map Location: -36.810735 175.077389
Comments:

DamageConsiderable damage was done by erosion on Waiheke Island. Soil slipping occurred.

Waikato

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at Waikato
Comments:

Declared EmergencyA Civil Defence Emergency was declared for Thames Borough and Thames Valley Region at 6:10am on the 17th and lasted until the 22nd, due to flooding and landslides.

Affected LifelineAll major roads on the Coromandel Peninsula were closed.

DamageApart from Te Aroha, the worst damage extended from Kopu to Tapu, on either side of Thames.

CommentThe estimated Return Period was a 20 year event.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, about 700 insurance claims had been made for the Thames-Coromandel District.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for the Thames-Coromandel District were estimated at $3,591,000 ($7,887,000 2008 dollars).

Insurance PaymentInsurance Industry Payouts for Thames / Coromandel / Te Aroha totalled $5,900,000 ($14,600,000 2008 dollars).

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

CommentFrom Coromandel to Thames, rainfalls were the highest on record. 24-hour totals were in excess of the three-day accumulations in the 1981 event. Some areas had extreme rainfalls of less than 24 hours, particularly at Te Aroha.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentFloods occurred in mountain streams on the Coromandel and Kamai Ranges.

CommentAlong the Thames coast a dozen or more streams became torrents.

CommentThere was widespread flooding in the Thames Coast-Te Aroha area.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Coromandel
Map Location: -36.752541 175.509193
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 196 mm (19.6 cm) of rain in six hours.

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 331 mm (33.1 cm) of rain in the 24 hours to 9am on the 17th (Return Period 85 years).

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 226 mm (22.6 cm) of rain in the eight hours from 8pm to 4am on the 17th (Return Period more than 150 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

Affected Lifeline70 campers at the top of the peninsula were trapped.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Coromandel Range
Map Location: -37.096559 175.696394
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThe Coromandel Ranges recorded 320 mm (32.0 cm) of rain.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Kauaeranga River
Map Location: -37.080955 175.651918
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicKauaeranga Forest recorded 350 mm (3.5 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThe Kauaeranga River flooded.

ImpactA couple in Kauaeranga gorge had to be rescued from their caravan.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Te Aroha
Map Location: -37.536498 175.715457
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicTe Aroha recorded 600 mm (60.0 cm) in 12 hours.

Physical CharacteristicTe Aroha recorded 127 mm (12.7 cm) of rain in six hours (Return Period 100 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentTe Aroha was the hardest hit.

CommentThe Waihou River flooded, and four streams contributed to flash flooding.

DamageHuge boulders tumbled down into the street with the remains of trees. The whole business district was covered in waste from the waters. Cars were overturned.

Affected LifelineA bridge north of the main stream was washed out.

ImpactThe Army undertook blasting to take pressure off the dam.

Property DamageShops were destroyed, with their contents scattered. Nearly every shop and about 50 houses were damaged.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

Affected LifelineHeavy rain caused an avalanche of sludge, boulders and logs, driven by the swollen streams, to race down Mt Te Aroha and into the town streets in the early hours of the 17th.

CasualtiesThree people, a 63-year-old woman, and two of her chilldren, a 22-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, were killed when a house on Puriri Street was overwhelmed.

InjuriesIn the same incident, a 9-year-old girl was seriously injured after being swept 1500m from her home in a river of debris, finally becoming jammed in a tree.

Property DamageThe house was completely destroyed.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

Evacuees164 people, or about 50 families, were evacuated at Te Aroha.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, about 350 insurance claims had been made.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for Te Aroha were estimated at $2,500,000 ($5,490,000 2008 dollars).

Affected LifelineHalf the town was without a water supply. The water supply was cut off for 12 days.

Affected LifelineSewage lines were broken and the stormwater system was blocked.

Affected LifelineTe Aroha was cut off from Morrinsville, Paeroa and Matamata.

ImpactTe Aroha schools were closed for one week.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Thames
Map Location: -37.140988 175.533107
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThames recorded 251 mm (25.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours (Return Period 150 years.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

EvacueesSome people were evacuated at Thames.

Affected LifelinePhones and electricity were down.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for urban Thames were estimated at $2,154,600 ($4,732,000 2008 dollars).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

DamageFloodbanks were smashed in Thames.

Affected LifelineBridges were smashed and torrents undermined roads.

ImpactFlood waters inundated the hospital, shops and houses. 200 homes and over 30 businesses were flooded.

CommentThe main flood waters hit the town with little warning at about 4:30am.

CommentKaraka and Hape Streams caused the main force of the flood.

CommentThe flood was named "Four year flood".

DamageFive caravans at a Motor Camp were carried out to sea.

DamageDamage from the flood looked worse than the 1981 flood.

Physical CharacteristicParts of the road lay under 1m of water.

FloodingFlooding at Waiomu
Map Location: -37.026591 175.509342
Comments:

CasualtiesAn elderly woman was drowned when she fell from her house into floodwaters and was swept away.

References

Auckland Regional Water Board. (1986). Report on The Storm 16th February to 17th February 1985. Technical Publication No.33.
Burgess, S.M. (1985). New Zealand Weather. Weather and Climate (1985) 5: 81-82.
Environment Waikato. History of Flood Events on the Thames Coast.
Environment Waikato. State of Emergency Declarations in the district since 1976.
Howarth, M. (1986). Town in Trouble: Te Aroha, Thames.
Insurance Councils. The Cost of Weather Loses, Claims history (Updated 2004).
MCDEM, 2002.
Morris, B. (1987). New Zealand's Darkest Days, The country's worst disasters including: Mt Tarawera, The Wahine, Napier Earthquake, Mt Erebus, Tangiwai, Ballantyne's Fire.
New Zealand Meteorological Service. Meteorological Observations for 1985, Stations in New Zealand and Outlying Islands, and Antarctica.
New Zealand Meteorological Service. (2008). Meteorology of Extreme Rainfalls in New Zealand (Mark Pascoe, Ed.).
Headline: Army blasts to ease unsafe dam.
The Waikato Times, 18 February 1985.
Headline: River of debris cuts path of destruction.
The Waikato Times, 18 February 1985.

February 1985 Auckland and Waikato Flooding ( 1985-02-16 )

20-100 years

Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in Auckland and Waikato. A Civil Defence Emergency was declared for Thames Borough and Thames Valley Region. Severe damage was done in Te Aroha and the Thames area. Three people were killed and one injured when a torrent of debris overwhelmed a house in Te Aroha, and and a woman was drowned at Waiomu.

North Island

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Duration:   2  days - From the 16th to the 17th of February.
Comments:

CauseWarm moist air from a high pressue zone was clashing with a low pressure trough to produce a broad band of rain. A characteristic north-east flow and frontal passage, but the gradients were not unusually strong. Convection caused an unstable spillover situation, where maximum rainfalls occur on the lee side of the ranges.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

CommentIt was a 100 year event at 1% of New Zealand rain gauge sites.

Auckland

FloodingFlooding at Auckland
Comments:

CommentFlooding was experienced in parts of Auckland on the 16th and 17th.

CommentThe south-east area of Auckland was the most affected - Franklin County, Manukau, Papakura, Waiheke Island and Howick.

ImpactMany houses were flooded.

CommentThe effects of the flood may have been elevated due to the extent of the dry conditions preceeding it.

LandslideLandslide at Hunua Ranges
Map Location: -37.075086 175.180301
Comments:

DamageConsiderable damage was done by erosion to land west of and including the Hunuas. Soil slipping occurred.

FloodingFlooding at Manakau Harbour
Map Location: -37.054357 174.730384
Comments:

Affected LifelineWards bridge in Manakau was damaged beyond repair.

Damage CostThe estimated cost of replacement for Wards bridge was $150,000 ($370,000 2008 dollars).

FloodingFlooding at Papakura
Map Location: -37.069598 174.946724
Comments:

Evacuees15 houses were evacuated at Papakura.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Pukekohe
Map Location: -37.206561 174.898162
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicPukekohe recorded 166 mm (16.6 cm) of rain in 24 hours (Return Period 50 years).

LandslideLandslide at Waiheke Island
Map Location: -36.810735 175.077389
Comments:

DamageConsiderable damage was done by erosion on Waiheke Island. Soil slipping occurred.

Waikato

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at Waikato
Comments:

Declared EmergencyA Civil Defence Emergency was declared for Thames Borough and Thames Valley Region at 6:10am on the 17th and lasted until the 22nd, due to flooding and landslides.

Affected LifelineAll major roads on the Coromandel Peninsula were closed.

DamageApart from Te Aroha, the worst damage extended from Kopu to Tapu, on either side of Thames.

CommentThe estimated Return Period was a 20 year event.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, about 700 insurance claims had been made for the Thames-Coromandel District.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for the Thames-Coromandel District were estimated at $3,591,000 ($7,887,000 2008 dollars).

Insurance PaymentInsurance Industry Payouts for Thames / Coromandel / Te Aroha totalled $5,900,000 ($14,600,000 2008 dollars).

Heavy RainHeavy Rain
Comments:

CommentFrom Coromandel to Thames, rainfalls were the highest on record. 24-hour totals were in excess of the three-day accumulations in the 1981 event. Some areas had extreme rainfalls of less than 24 hours, particularly at Te Aroha.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentFloods occurred in mountain streams on the Coromandel and Kamai Ranges.

CommentAlong the Thames coast a dozen or more streams became torrents.

CommentThere was widespread flooding in the Thames Coast-Te Aroha area.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Coromandel
Map Location: -36.752541 175.509193
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 196 mm (19.6 cm) of rain in six hours.

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 331 mm (33.1 cm) of rain in the 24 hours to 9am on the 17th (Return Period 85 years).

Physical CharacteristicCoromandel recorded 226 mm (22.6 cm) of rain in the eight hours from 8pm to 4am on the 17th (Return Period more than 150 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

Affected Lifeline70 campers at the top of the peninsula were trapped.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Coromandel Range
Map Location: -37.096559 175.696394
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThe Coromandel Ranges recorded 320 mm (32.0 cm) of rain.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Kauaeranga River
Map Location: -37.080955 175.651918
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicKauaeranga Forest recorded 350 mm (3.5 cm) of rain in 24 hours.

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentThe Kauaeranga River flooded.

ImpactA couple in Kauaeranga gorge had to be rescued from their caravan.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Te Aroha
Map Location: -37.536498 175.715457
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicTe Aroha recorded 600 mm (60.0 cm) in 12 hours.

Physical CharacteristicTe Aroha recorded 127 mm (12.7 cm) of rain in six hours (Return Period 100 years).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

CommentTe Aroha was the hardest hit.

CommentThe Waihou River flooded, and four streams contributed to flash flooding.

DamageHuge boulders tumbled down into the street with the remains of trees. The whole business district was covered in waste from the waters. Cars were overturned.

Affected LifelineA bridge north of the main stream was washed out.

ImpactThe Army undertook blasting to take pressure off the dam.

Property DamageShops were destroyed, with their contents scattered. Nearly every shop and about 50 houses were damaged.

LandslideLandslide
Comments:

Affected LifelineHeavy rain caused an avalanche of sludge, boulders and logs, driven by the swollen streams, to race down Mt Te Aroha and into the town streets in the early hours of the 17th.

CasualtiesThree people, a 63-year-old woman, and two of her chilldren, a 22-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, were killed when a house on Puriri Street was overwhelmed.

InjuriesIn the same incident, a 9-year-old girl was seriously injured after being swept 1500m from her home in a river of debris, finally becoming jammed in a tree.

Property DamageThe house was completely destroyed.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

Evacuees164 people, or about 50 families, were evacuated at Te Aroha.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, about 350 insurance claims had been made.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for Te Aroha were estimated at $2,500,000 ($5,490,000 2008 dollars).

Affected LifelineHalf the town was without a water supply. The water supply was cut off for 12 days.

Affected LifelineSewage lines were broken and the stormwater system was blocked.

Affected LifelineTe Aroha was cut off from Morrinsville, Paeroa and Matamata.

ImpactTe Aroha schools were closed for one week.

Heavy RainHeavy Rain at Thames
Map Location: -37.140988 175.533107
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThames recorded 251 mm (25.1 cm) of rain in 24 hours (Return Period 150 years.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

EvacueesSome people were evacuated at Thames.

Affected LifelinePhones and electricity were down.

Insurance ClaimAs at 1986, insurance claims for urban Thames were estimated at $2,154,600 ($4,732,000 2008 dollars).

FloodingFlooding
Comments:

DamageFloodbanks were smashed in Thames.

Affected LifelineBridges were smashed and torrents undermined roads.

ImpactFlood waters inundated the hospital, shops and houses. 200 homes and over 30 businesses were flooded.

CommentThe main flood waters hit the town with little warning at about 4:30am.

CommentKaraka and Hape Streams caused the main force of the flood.

CommentThe flood was named "Four year flood".

DamageFive caravans at a Motor Camp were carried out to sea.

DamageDamage from the flood looked worse than the 1981 flood.

Physical CharacteristicParts of the road lay under 1m of water.

FloodingFlooding at Waiomu
Map Location: -37.026591 175.509342
Comments:

CasualtiesAn elderly woman was drowned when she fell from her house into floodwaters and was swept away.

References

Auckland Regional Water Board. (1986). Report on The Storm 16th February to 17th February 1985. Technical Publication No.33.
Burgess, S.M. (1985). New Zealand Weather. Weather and Climate (1985) 5: 81-82.
Environment Waikato. History of Flood Events on the Thames Coast.
Environment Waikato. State of Emergency Declarations in the district since 1976.
Howarth, M. (1986). Town in Trouble: Te Aroha, Thames.
Insurance Councils. The Cost of Weather Loses, Claims history (Updated 2004).
MCDEM, 2002.
Morris, B. (1987). New Zealand's Darkest Days, The country's worst disasters including: Mt Tarawera, The Wahine, Napier Earthquake, Mt Erebus, Tangiwai, Ballantyne's Fire.
New Zealand Meteorological Service. Meteorological Observations for 1985, Stations in New Zealand and Outlying Islands, and Antarctica.
New Zealand Meteorological Service. (2008). Meteorology of Extreme Rainfalls in New Zealand (Mark Pascoe, Ed.).
Headline: Army blasts to ease unsafe dam.
The Waikato Times, 18 February 1985.
Headline: River of debris cuts path of destruction.
The Waikato Times, 18 February 1985.