Severe weather

Photo: Dino BorelliBy virtue of its mid-ocean geographical position between the sub-tropical and mid-latitude belts, and its land-mass structure, New Zealand is vulnerable to a range of climate conditions with potential to create severe weather hazards. The major effects of severe weather over the Waikato include:               

  • rainfall (affecting all or any part of the region)
  • high winds (affecting all or any part of the region)
  • storm surge and storm tides (affecting coastal areas)

Storms

On this page: Before a storm, When a warning is issued and during a storm, Snowstorms, After a storm.

For information on storm-related hazards go to the Waikato Regional Council website.

Major storms affect wide areas and can be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain or snowfall, thunder, lightning, tornadoes and rough seas. They can cause damage to property and infrastructure, affect crops and livestock, disrupt essential services, and cause coastal inundation.

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings are issued by the MetService and available through the broadcast media, by email alerts, and from the Metservice website.

Before a storm

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan. Assemble and maintain your Emergency Survival Items for your home as well as a portable getaway kit.
  • Prepare your property for high winds. Secure large heavy objects or remove any item which can become a deadly or damaging missile. Get your roof checked regularly to make sure it is secure. List items that may need to be secured or moved indoors when strong winds are forecast.
  • Keep materials at hand for repairing windows, such as tarpaulins, boards and duct tape.
  • If you are renovating or building, make sure all work complies with the New Zealand building code which has specific standards to minimise storm damage.
  • If farming, know which paddocks are away from floodwaters, landslides and power lines, and safe for livestock.

When a warning is issued and during a storm

  • Stay informed on weather updates. Listen to your local radio stations as civil defence authorities will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit in case you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Secure, or move indoors, all items that could get blown about and cause harm in strong winds.
  • Close windows, external and internal doors. Pull curtains and drapes over unprotected glass areas to prevent injury from shattered or flying glass.
  • If the wind becomes destructive, stay away from doors and windows and shelter further inside the house.
  • Water supplies can be affected so it is a good idea to store drinking water in containers and fill bathtubs and sinks with water.
  • Don't walk around outside and avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.
  • Power cuts are possible in severe weather. Unplug small appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges. If power is lost unplug major appliances to reduce the power surge and possible damage when power is restored.
  • Bring pets inside. Move stock to shelter. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you.

Snowstorms

In a snowstorm, the primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power and telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. It is important for people living in areas at risk from snowstorms to consider the need for alternative forms of heating and power generation.

  • Avoid leaving home unless absolutely necessary when a snow warning is issued.
  • If you have to travel make sure you are well prepared with snow chains, sleeping bags, warm clothing and essential emergency items.
  • At home, check fuel supplies for woodburners, gas heaters, barbeques and generators.
  • Bring pets inside. Move domestic animals and stock to shelter.
  • If you are caught in your car or truck in a snowstorm, stay in your vehicle. Run the engine every ten minutes to keep warm. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Open the window a little to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make yourself visible to rescuers by tying a bright-coloured cloth to your radio aerial or door and keeping the inside light on.

After a storm

  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Check for injuries and help others if you can, especially people who require special assistance.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
  • Contact your local council if your house or building has been severely damaged, and/or to report  fallen trees or tree limbs, clogged catch basins, or flooded streets.
  • If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs and contact your insurance company. Inform your landlord if there is damage to the rental property.
  • Ask your council for advice on how to clean up debris safely.
  • If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it. It may contain hazardous materials.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle in flood conditions can be fatal.
  • Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines. Report them to your local electricity or gas supplier.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, unplug all electrical appliances.