Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wild night

Last night, we were hit by a very big storm. Trees were downed, houses damaged, there was flooding and a few relatively minor injuries. It could have been much worse.

I didn’t know there was going to be a storm because I’d missed the weather reports. It was raining steadily when I went to bed, but around midnight or so the storm woke me up with the sound of driving rain and incredibly strong winds. We could hear things banging, apparently caused by the wind, but we couldn’t tell where in the area the sounds were coming from.

When daylight finally came, I looked out all our windows and saw that there was no damage, though there were leaves and debris all over the place. We didn’t have any flooding or any other damage. We were lucky.

There was damage all over the area, with trees down, surface flooding, boats broken from their moorings, and power lost for 50-70,000 homes. By midday, some 40,000 were still without power.

Wind gusts peaked at 131km/h (a little over 81 mph) on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which had to be closed for a while when wind gusts made the bridge structure move. But that was after wind gusts knocked over a truck. Up in Whangaparaoa, wind gusts topped out at 145 km/h (about 90 mph), and out in the Hauraki Gulf, wind gusts hit around 170 km/h (just over 105 mph).

Because we had no damage, it wasn’t as bad for us as the weather bomb that threw a tree against our house nearly seven years ago. But it was a little worse than the one that hit us about a year later, in July 2008; then as now, we had lots of wind and rain, but no damage at our house. But unlike 2008, and more like 2007, others had sometimes major damage.

This sort of thing is becoming more common. While the 2007 storm was called a "once in 150 years event", we’ve now had really several bad storms this time of year, some worse than others, but all of them far more severe than ordinary bad storms. Because of climate change, we’ll be seeing more of these sorts of severe storms and other extreme weather (things like droughts, extreme heat and extreme cold, too). We’re starting to see what may well be the new normal.

Because of the weather bomb back in 2007, there are no longer any trees close enough to hit our house, so that’s one good thing (the damage form the 2007 storm took four months to be repaired, due to all the damage in the region). Our upgrades to our drains also means we’re less likely to be flooded, which is also good.

That’s all for now, of course. Even seven years ago I don’t think anyone was predicting that such bad storms would become common, but that’s what we seem to now have. I’m hoping that we don’t eventually get “super storms” as some suggest might happen as the atmosphere heats up, though that may be some decades away yet, if they happen at all.

In the meantime, it was a wild night, but we emerged unscathed. Right now, that’s enough.


granthor said...

Glad you're okay, Arthur. :) <3

rogerogreen said...

Yeesh. Hurricane-force winds! Glad it has passed!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

The worst part really, is that we didn't know the storm was coming, so the first we knew was when it woke us up. Mind you, that was also a good thing: I was too sleepy by then to really focus on it or worry about what might be flying around, etc. Evens so, we did wake up frequently during the night.