1998 saw El Nino really take hold of the country. Strong hot westerlies, low humidity and little rainfall were causing more than a few anxious moments for many, with the fire risks at very dangerous levels. Houses and farm buildings were vulnerable, as much of the country was described as ‘tinderbox territory’.Lives were also threatened because of the constant threat of an explosive situation due to the parched lands and scorching temperatures.
Just 7 years earlier and on this day in 1991, it was a completely different story with torrential rain falling in Westland and a total of 700 mm was recorded in just 48 hours! Residents inland of Hokitika, had to be evacuated from Kaniere (over 120 households in total), as floodwaters threatened lives and property.
It was a very wet time for the area as a whole, as rain hammered away for many days during that particular month and saw the soggiest January on record up until that point.
You can guage from these two events how variable our climate can be, even during the height of summer.This January is similar to the dry period of ‘ 98 but the winds haven’t been as strong although the high sunshine hours, low rainfall and big temperatures are certainly on a par.