The Ohikanui River at Buckland Peak rainfall site has been installed. This telemetry site is the last piece of the Buller River flood monitoring system required to start gathering data for the new forecasting model.

The advanced flood warning system was the number one short term priority recommended by the Westport 2100 Working Group to provide up to 8 hours advanced warning for the evacuation of Westport. Currently there is very little time to issue any form of warning, and no time to undertake an evacuation safely. The new flood warning system will, over time as the data is gathered, provide a reliable 8-hour window of warning.

The new forecasting computer model is ready to start collecting and analysing the data collected by the telemetry sites. However, it will take at least 5 years of data gathered across the system to be able to provide accurate formal evacuation warnings.

Rachel Vaughan, Acting Planning and Science Manager said that reliable flood forecasts for decision making would require accurate weather, river and sea level forecasts. “It is great to have the last site in place to start gathering this data,” Ms Vaughan said. “However, due to the site’s remoteness our field staff do need to go and check the reliability of the radio connection.”

The weather window for undertaking the onsite inspection is next week. Site data will be manually collected and compared with the information gathered from the surrounding NIWA and Bathurst Resources Ltd sites. “Please be patient as you look for this data,” said Ms Vaughan. “Once we can verify our communication links are working as they are supposed to, we will be able to use this data to assist with decision-making and better planning with our community.”

Earlier this year, Council’s rainfall and river level webpages were updated for better usability for the community. Monitoring data can be accessed at via the rainfall data viewer.

Article source: West Coast Regional Council: