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A hazardous winter in New Zealand

Media release: 3 December 2003

A hazardous winter in New Zealand

If you thought this winter seemed a little more hazardous than usual, you would be right. From floods and droughts to extreme storm surges and magnitude 7 earthquakes, this winter outstripped last year for the sheer numbers of natural hazards.

‘We had two earthquakes of magnitude 6 and over this winter compared with none in 2002, and more than twice as many earthquakes between magnitude 5 and 6,’ said NIWA scientist Dr Warren Gray. ‘We also had significantly more extreme weather events and more than double the number of coastal hazards as last year.’

‘We experienced the whole gamut of natural hazards this winter,’ said Dr Gray, ‘the only thing missing was a volcanic eruption to complete the picture.’

Extreme natural hazard events in winter 2003, as reported in the latest newsletter released today from the joint GNS and NIWA Natural Hazards Centre:

Motu on the east coast of the North Island received 196 mm of rain between 29 and 30 June – almost 2 months worth of rain in one hit.

In stark contrast, Nelson received only 9 mm of rain for the whole of July.

Waves measuring up to 10 m high were recorded at Mokohinau, Northland, on 20 August.

Heavy snowfalls down to 300–500 m were recorded in the Central and Eastern North Island in July.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Fiordland on 22 August. It was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, 18 measuring between magnitude 5 and 6.

Visit our webpage:

Natural Hazards Update publishes a quarterly review by the Natural Hazards Centre of such hazards in New Zealand, as well as other news and information on upcoming events.

The Centre is a joint initiative between the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS) and the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and was established to strengthen the links between scientists, policy makers, planners, and emergency managers.

The key role of the Centre is to communicate research results, and the aim is to ensure that research on hazards helps communities improve their resilience to natural hazards and better manage the risks they face.


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