Tuesday, 25 June 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

The latest on the path of Cyclone Pam to New Zealand

Tropical Cyclone Pam is still a category 5 cyclone but has begun a weakening trend. The infrared image of the cyclone (herewith) taken at 3:45am this morning indicates that the cloud tops in the centre are not as cold as they were yesterday, suggesting the cyclone is weakening.

Metservice says the cyclone should continue to weaken, but will still be an intense storm with hurricane force winds near the centre out to midnight tonight.

The cyclone is still expected to follow a southeast path to the east of New Zealand.

The cyclone is expected to be category 2 in strength when its centre passes the Coromandel out to sea some time between midday and midnight tonight.

Metservice has issued a Severe Weather Warning for the Cormandel for strong winds, saying, “Southeasterlies are expected to rise to gale this afternoon, then to severe gale gusting 120km/h this evening, before tending southerly and weakening Monday morning.”

A Severe Weather Watch for heavy rain is also in place, with Metservice saying, “A period of heavy rain is expected from this afternoon until Monday morning. Rainfall accumulations may exceed warning criteria during this time (greater than 75mm in 15 hours).”

Swells on the Coromandel east coast are expected to reach 5 metres.  

Further update on Cyclone Pam

At 1:00am this morning (New Zealand local time) severe Tropical Cyclone Pam was located about 70km east of Port Vila, Vanuatu. TC Pam is still a category 5 cyclone and has intensified slightly overnight with the central pressure dropping to an estimated 899hPa and winds close to the centre of about 250km/h. The area of gales (65km/h winds) is estimated to extend up to 380km from the centre of the cyclone, affecting much of Vanuatu. TC Pam is still moving slowly south and is expected to cross the southern Vanuatu islands of Erromango and Tanna by late afternoon today while intensifying slightly.

The latest forecast track map for TC PAM (pictured) was issued by RSMC Nadi, Fiji at 2.24am this morning. The map shows that TC PAM is expected to take a southeast track to the northeast of New Zealand over the next couple of days. Although the map shows that the category of the system will change as it approaches New Zealand, decreasing from 5 at the moment to 1 south of 30S, this just reflects the fact that the system is moving out of the tropics and is losing its tropical character. The cyclone will remain a very intense storm, with heavy rain, severe gales and high seas associated with it.

The severe weather watch Metservice has issued for the Coromandel Peninsula remains in place. According to them, “Gale south to southeast winds [are] expected to develop Sunday evening and may rise to severe gale for a time late Sunday and during Monday.

“A period of heavy rain is expected late Sunday and into Monday. Rainfall accumulations may exceed warning criteria during this time - greater than 80mm in 18 hours.”

Metservice also says that unusually heavy swells and very large waves are expected to affect the east coast of the North Island, starting near Cape Reinga Sunday evening, then spreading southwards to reach Wairarapa late Monday. “Waves of this size have significant potential for coastal erosion, especially combined with gales and storm surge. Anyone considering venturing near the water should take extra precautions and be sure to check the latest coastal marine forecast for expected adverse conditions.”

Update on Cyclone Pam

Metservice said this morning Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to remain east of New Zealand, but parts of the North Island are likely to be affected by severe weather on Monday and Tuesday, especially Gisborne, northern Hawkes Bay and the eastern ranges of the Bay of Plenty.

For Northland, northern Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, Metservice said, “There is moderate confidence that rain could become heavy overnight Sunday and during Monday and southeast gales could become severe. Southeasterlies are expected to turn southwest as the low tracks further south late Monday and early Tuesday and there is also a low risk of severe southwest gales on Tuesday.”

In the diagram with this report the best forecast positions are indicated by the red line, while the surrounding grey envelope gives an idea of the spread in the tracks the cyclone could take. 

Metservice pointed out, however, that adverse weather associated with the cyclone may spread much wider than this envelope of tracks. 

Whitianga is expected to experience cloudy periods and a few showers with easterlies tomorrow. On Sunday we are expected to see rain overnight and a strengthening southeast and on Monday heavy rain and gale southeasterlies.

LIMs indicate strong housing demand says TCDC

Thames Coromandel District Council says the demand for housing is up on the Coromandel - as indicated by the record number of requests they’ve received for Land Information Memoranda (LIMs) for February.

LIM requests come from people who are interested in buying properties.

And builders and building supply shops can expect to be kept busy over the winter months.

"We also see a spike generally six months after this data in building and resource consent applications,” says Christine Harrison, Land Information Officer TCDC. "Those who buy a home are often prepared to spend additional money on renovations or do-up plans."

LIMs on properties contain information about things such as potential erosion, contamination, flooding, structural requirements, where the street water pipes and waste water pipes run, rates details, consents and zoning.

“In February, we had 164 LIM requests, in February 2014 we had 108 and in February 2013 we had 125,” says Christine.

TCDC says January is normally their busiest month for LIM requests, but this February has been the highest number they've had in any month since February 2006 - before the Global Financial Crisis and the recession in New Zealand - when there were 165.

March looks to be tracking the same.

There was a dip in LIM requests in August and September last year, before the General Election.

"We think people were sitting tight until after the election," says Ms Harrison.

MP seeks local input for broadband on the Coromandel

Coromandel Member of Parliament Scott Simpson is calling on local authorities to make their case to bring Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to Thames, Whitianga, Katikati, Waihi, Te Aroha and Paeroa.

The Government has launched the next step in its $2 billion fibre investment with a Registration of Interest document seeking input from local councils and technology providers on why their town should get UFB and RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative).

“Better access to faster broadband is something that’s raised with me often as the local MP. This is our chance to get directly involved and show why we need UFB in Thames, Whitianga, Katikati,  Waihi,  Te Aroha and Paeroa  and how we would support broadband extensions in our community,” says Mr Simpson

“Over the coming weeks I want to hear from council and local providers about their ideas on how we could support the roll out and uptake of better services in our district."

Mr Simpson says the benefits of bringing UFB/RBI to Thames, Whitianga, Katikati, Waihi, Te Aroha and Paeroa were exponential.

“Digital connectivity is a key part of growing our local economy. Ensuring our local businesses, schools, homes and health care providers have access to fast and reliable broadband means more opportunities for our community."

The Government is investing an additional $152 million to $210 million to lift the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme coverage from 75 percent to 80 percent of New Zealanders. 

It is also investing $100 million to expand the Rural Broadband programme and $50 million to improve mobile coverage in black spot areas along main highways and in popular tourist destinations.

Cyclone Pam may bring some heavy rain

Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to remain to the east of New Zealand, but some rain and wind starting late Sunday are expected on the Coromandel.

MetService has issued a severe weather outlook for the Coromandel saying, “There is a low confidence that rain could become heavy late Sunday and southeast gales could become severe. However, the confidence increases to moderate on Monday, for both warning amounts of heavy rain in these areas and also severe gales. Southeasterlies are expected to turn southwest as the low tracks further south on Monday and there is also a risk of severe southwest gales.”

Gary Talbot, Thames Valley Emergency Operations Manager, says, "Cyclones can cause panic, the best way to combat this is to be prepared and don't take risks.

"Check your property for loose items like trampolines and garden furniture and tie them down, make sure you have plenty of fresh water available and keep up to date with weather forecasts."

Fleeing couple apprehended by Police

Waikato Police say a man and a woman will have plenty of time to consider their actions after their car that was used to flee officers attempting to stop them was halted with the aid of road spikes on the Coromandel Peninsula this afternoon.

Senior Sergeant Andrew O'Reilly of the Waikato District Command Centre said the incident began when an officer tried to conduct a routine stop of a vehicle on the 309 Road near Whitianga that had been linked to a petrol drive-off.

"The driver of the car has refused to stop and instead fled south towards Tairua on SH25 resulting in a pursuit managed by the Northern Communications Centre being initiated.

"Road spikes were successfully deployed on SH25A leading to the car coming to a halt.

"The 27-year-old male passenger who was wanted on warrants to arrest was apprehended at the scene, while the 17-year-old female driver fled on foot but was tracked by a Police dog and handler a short time later."

Mr O'Reilly said the female driver had also been wanted by Police and she was treated at Thames Hospital for minor injuries unrelated to the pursuit.

"The pair are currently being interviewed by Police in relation to this and earlier matters and will have plenty of time to consider the wisdom of their option taking before appearing in the Hamilton District Court tomorrow.

Police appealing for assistance in 1080 blackmail threat

The police are appealing for information in relation to a threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 poison in pest control.

The police are also appealing for the person, or group, responsible for the threat to make themselves known in order to resolve the matter.

Anonymous letters were received by Federated Farmers and Fonterra in November 2014, accompanied by small packages of milk powder which subsequently tested positive for the presence of a concentrated form of 1080.

The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 for pest control by the end of March 2015.

The letter writer threatened to disclose the threat publicly if the government did not meet this demand by this time.

The matter was referred to the police and a full investigation has been underway since November.

An Auckland-based investigation team - Operation Concord - involving up to 36 staff at different times, has been working closely with the industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries to identify those responsible.

"Whilst there is a possibility that this threat is a hoax, we must treat the threat seriously and a priority investigation is underway," says Police Deputy Commissioner (National Operations) Mike Clement. 

"We therefore encourage the letter writer to come forward to the police.  The letter writer may not have really considered the implications of their actions when this communication was drafted.  Now is the time to put this right by picking up the phone and calling us. 

"At present a large number of resources are being directed to this multi-faceted investigation, which involves a number of specialist groups and support agencies.

"We are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry, and are also at the point where the public's help is being sought. 

"If anyone has any information which might assist  the police then we want to hear from you.

"You might be aware of someone who has strong views on the 1080 issue and made threats or has discussed how to access supplies of 1080.

"Even if you are unsure whether this information will be helpful we still want you to contact the enquiry team so they can make that assessment."

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the inquiry team on 0800 723 665 or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively information can always be disclosed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

LATEST WEEKLY ISSUE

ONLINE POLL

Do you support the teachers of New Zealand taking industrial action to achieve better pay and working conditions?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.