What is causing this heavy rain? “It is clear that global warming is part of it”

A climatologist says climate change and long-term weather systems are behind recent extreme flooding across the country – including the ravaged Tairāwhiti Gisborne.

Photo: Eastland Network

MetService updated its forecast for the region tonight to a “red warning” – reserved for the most severe weather events, and an additional 200 millimeters is forecast for tonight.

Dr Jim Salinger said the country is experiencing its third hottest hot season on record and the recent string of record heavy rain events was different from Aotearoa.

He said temperatures were, on average, about a degree warmer than before, and when that happens the atmosphere holds more water, which can lead to heavier downpours.

Massive rainfall in Gisborne is chosen to be a century-old event.

“The sheer number of times we get what’s called ‘a 100-year event’ means that [it is based on] What [the] the weather was average – but we warmed up.

“Clearly global warming is in the mix, we also have La Niña bringing warm air down over New Zealand. And here we go.”

Meanwhile, he said temperatures hit 26 and 27 in Otago yesterday – not typical for late March.

A flooded river in the Te Puia Springs valley, Gisborne area, March 23, 2022

A flooded river in the Te Puia Springs valley, Gisborne area, March 23, 2022
Photo: Frank Pahina

Climate change is the challenge of this generation – Kiritapu Allan

Emergency Management Minister and East Coast MP Kiritapu Allan said climate change was a very real issue that was impacting New Zealanders “on a very visceral level”.

She said Climate Change Minister James Shaw was leading work on climate change adaptation as part of the reform of the Resource Management Act.

“We know that coastal properties are vulnerable, it’s something we have to work with and no doubt adapt our behaviors and our way of life.

“That’s really one of the challenges that we as a generation have to deal with.”

Teresa H. Sadler