Wettest July Ever (Part One) – Record Breaking Rain for Canterbury

“On a Mish” #342 Wettest July Ever – Part One. Lake Mosley. Tai Tapu. Otautahi / Christchurch. July 2022. While working in Fiordland I have learnt to really appreciate how heavy rain can get, and what rain can do when it falls hard enough. In most parts of Aotearoa the rain is merely something to upset Saturday morning sports and the family BBQ, so to see ‘real rain’ you will need to venture into one of our national parks on the West Coast i.e. Fiordland. Fiordland is regarded as one of the wettest places on earth and its lush green forest and barren mountain tops are a tell-tale sign of the heavy rain in the area. Sometimes while working in Fiordland, I would hear of a devastating storm that has battered a populated part of the country, and then I would hear the numbers (amount of rain in the storm in millimetres) and it just wouldn’t sound that impressive when compared with Fiordland’s legendary rainfall statistics…

Christchurch and the east side of Canterbury is definitely not known for its rainfall and the normal July total is around 60mm . Located far away to the east of the Southern Alps, the Canterbury area usually stays dry, warm and windy while wild weather lays waste to the West Coast of the South Island. So while I would be hiking in heavy rain on the west side, my family in Christchurch would be basking in sunshine on a windy day over on the east. During July it was as if the rain from Fiordland followed me to Christchurch, and along with the citizens of the town I grew up in, I was going to see what happens when Fiordland type rain delivers its watery payload in a place where it usually doesn’t.

Round one would produce some heavy rain down low on the Canterbury Plains and snow up in the mountains. But this was merely a warm up. Round Two. The next storm just one week later arrived with a powerful punch with much more rain and snow, and I was lucky enough to enjoy the event from my warm abode located high in the mountains at Lake Clearwater Village. It was epic to be high up in the mountains during a true winter storm, and the snow was heavy enough to close most of the alpine roads in the South Island. This storm topped up all of the rivers, lakes and basically any low point that water can settle in, and this was going to cause problems when (round three), the next significant weather event rolled around. Just like the second storm, it was only one week later we had our third significant weather event within three weeks, and by now the novelty had worn off! At times the rain during round three really took me back to Fiordland, a place I have missed while I sit in limbo waiting for medical care in Christchurch. Just like when in Fiordland, the rain was so heavy you swear you can feel the ground shaking like an earthquake from the dramatic downpours. It didn’t take long before we started to see the ground being overwhelmed by water, and the normal drainage points at my parents home became mighty rivers of fast flowing brown water. PART TWO 2/2

Lake Mosley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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