Severe weather hits New Zealand, numerous landslides in West Coast

Severe weather hits New Zealand, numerous landslides in West Coast

A rapidly deepening low-pressure system (bomb low) produced powerful winds and dumped heavy rain on New Zealand on January 18 and 19, 2017, especially on South Island's West Coast where numerous landslides blocked traffic and isolated local communities. The bad weather is expected to return late Saturday into Sunday, with more heavy rain for the West Coast, and scattered falls for most places.

Strong northwesterlies rattled the country from Taranaki to Stewart Island, followed by strong southerlies for the south, New Zealand's MetService said. At the same time, over 250 mm (9.8 inches) of rain in 24 hours lashed the West Coast, falling as snow on some higher peaks and causing numerous landslides.

In South Island's West Coast, Arthur's Pass recorded 307.4 mm (12.10 inches) of rain, Rotomanu 136 mm (5.35 inches), Hokitika 85.6 mm (3.37 inches), Greymouth 84.2 mm (3.31 inches). 

As a result of heavy rain, a massive landslide blocked a major South Island route, the NZHerald reported.

Landslide  between  Aickens  and Jacksons, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand - January 17, 2017.

Landslide between Aickens and Jacksons, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand - January 17, 2017.

State Highway 73 through Arthur's Pass has been closed overnight due to numerous and substantial slips, the paper said. One of the slips has seen debris strewn across the road and into the Taramakau River, blocking traffic in both directions. All but one of the main roads into Greymouth were closed, prompting late-night flood meetings and stranding motorists and trucks. Only SH6 south of Hokitika was open, with occasional surface flooding.

Landslide between Aickens and Jacksons, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand - January 17, 2017

Landslide between Aickens and Jacksons, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand - January 17, 2017. Coordinates: 42°45'49.85"S, 171°35'58.36"E

Winds in capital Wellington reached 148 km/h (91.9 mph) at Mt Kaukau overnight. The gales closed the Rimutaka Hill Road north of Wellington as gusts reached 154 km/h (95.7 mph).

In the South Island, wind gusts of 172 km/h (106.8 mph) were recorded near Mt Hutt and 124 km/h (77 mph) at Banks Peninsula.

Featured image: Lansdslide closes road between Aickens and Jacksons, New Zealand - January 17, 2017. Credit: NZHerald

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