Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Spirits sinking under onslaught of rain

Neal Wallace
Feds leaders flag dipping morale as eastern areas expect even more deluges.
The Waitio Stream, near Matapiro, threatened to breach its banks again today. Photo: Mel McCarty.
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It’s the impact on the morale of the weather-weary East Coast residents as much as the surface flooding from the latest deluge that concerns farming leader Toby Williams.

About 100mm has fallen since Thursday and Williams said that takes to 350mm the rain that has fallen on his Tairāwhiti farm in June.

Worryingly, another 100-150mm of rain is forecast to fall on the East Coast-Hawke’s Bay region over the weekend.

The current bout of wet weather has today caused some road closures, including State Highway 2, Mātāwai to Ormond, due to surface flooding.

Williams, who is also Federated Farmers’ meat and wool chair, said there have been some minor slips, but his biggest concern is the morale of people.

“It has just been relentless rain and it’s really starting to drag people down.”

Williams said rural people are taking the opportunity to replenish food and provisions ahead of further rain forecast this weekend.

He has noticed that the behaviour of already-full rivers has altered since Cyclone Gabrielle due to debris and silting up.

Flooding on the Taihape Road today between Shanley Road and Matapiro Road. Photo: Fraser Penny.

Further south, Hawke’s Bay had about 70mm overnight, which flooded roads as sodden paddocks were unable to absorb any more moisture.

Some parts have had well over 200mm of rain for the month and close to 1800mm for the year.

The region’s Feds president, Jim Galloway, said roading networks are proving susceptible after months of relentless rain. This should be a consideration for farmers as they decide if they need to quit stock, he said.

WeatherWatch senior forecaster Philip Duncan said the North Island has little reprieve for the next two weeks with more rain forecast – but this could be followed by more and longer dry spells.

“We are very much in a low pressure rut, which doesn’t ease for a couple of weeks.” But beyond that, a large high pressure system is forming over Australia, which could dominate weather patterns from mid-July.

Williams urged people to get off their farms and to make use of the Rural Support Trust and other support agencies.

“They are there, you are not on your own.

“We’ve been through a lot so don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbour, talk to anybody, but try to get some time off the farm.”

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