Friday, January 29, 2010

Good to see

It's nice to see Kiwis helping out while stuck in Peru.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Update on phone outages

Seems that some folks in the South Island are still having no luck with with their cellphone network, and today I just found that 1100 homes in Porirua were affected by a phone & internet outage lasting several days (up to 8 days for one poor gentleman reliant on the phone line for his medical alert).

You definitely need a plan for if your business loses it's phone line for that long!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New emergency management information system

We've been holding off on buying a fancy computerised system for managing emergencies here in Porirua, as we knew there were plans for a new system at the national level, and consistency is really quite important.

And finally, a decision has been made. This is from today's media release:

Minister of Civil Defence John Carter today announced that E-Sponder will supply an electronic emergency management information system (EMIS) for use in the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) and by civil defence authorities.

The NCMC, below ground under the Beehive, is designed to be a national operations centre. From there the responses of the hundreds of organisations likely to be involved in a large scale emergency can be co-ordinated and a national emergency can be managed.

“This EMIS will help us to better manage emergencies,” Mr Carter says. “It will allow us to more quickly and accurately create, and then keep up to date, what is known as a ‘common operating picture’. We use that to ensure that all agencies involved have the same understanding of the situation, who is doing what, where resources are and what decisions are being made.

“That means we will have a faster, better co-ordinated response and, ultimately, a safer, more resilient country.”

Mr Carter said that E-Sponder is an off-the-shelf system already used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the Australian federal government and by some United States state and county governments to manage information during emergencies.

We can expect to start seeing it mid-2010.

Network outage - again

So a major cellphone network went down again today at around 10.30am. This affects those south of Taupo. It's only now coming back up again.

Bit of an interruption to your day, isn't it? No cellphone for 4 hours of a working day. Since we rely on it so heavily, and continuity of service isn't garranteed, it makes sense to have a plan for what to do when it ceases to work.

Obviously, not working isn't a particularly viable option for an extended outage of anything vital - going to the nearest cafe when the server crashes doesn't keep anything but the cafe in business.

Business continuity planning - it's important, and it's not just about what you are going to do after an earthquake, it's how to you keep your business going when the phones don't go, or the power goes out, or your server crashes, or the sprinklers in your building go off by accident, or all your staff get norovirus, or someone vital to your business actually needs to use the 20 weeks of leave they have owing to them. How do you keep going?

Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Wellington

I love thunderstorms. Just don't seem to get the same kind of lightning here that I used to see in Christchurch, however.

The MetService has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for this afternoon, for most of the North Island, including Wellington.

Thunderstorms are expected to develop in many parts of the North Island again today. In inland areas from Wairarapa and northern Wellington to Waikato, and from Taranaki to Gisborne. Some thunderstorms are expected to become severe this afternoon, with localised torrential rainfalls up to and possibly in excess of 40mm/hr.

Large hail over 20mm in diameter can also be expected with some of these severe thunderstorms.

This activity is expected to diminish from early to mid evening and to have died out by late evening.

Rainfall of this intensity can cause flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips. Driving conditions will also be hazardous with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain. Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles, as well as make driving conditions hazardous. Should severe weather approach or if you feel threatened, take shelter immediately.

I love the lightning and thunder, but all the extras that come with thunderstorms (the heavy rain, and possible hail etc) aren't as much fun.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Just received an envelope with some awesome handmade thank you cards from the kids at Discovery School after their earthquake simulation day - even a pop up one! They're now proudly displayed on the wall by my desk.

Nice relaxing holiday... not.

A rather unfortunate norovirus outbreak at the Golden Bay Holiday Park, near Takaka, probably has many holidaymakers wishing they'd stayed at home (and wishing the toilets came with seatbelts and extra buckets for the inevitable catastrophic containment failure), with around 80 people affected. Nasty...


I haven't posted anything on the disaster in Haiti - it's all over the news still, and is really rather awful and depressing. Once again the value of a reasonable building code is highlighted. Haiti didn't have one. The level of aid mustered for this disaster is heartening, but some of the issues of coordination are not. There are lesson to be learned from it, unfortunately at someone's expense, as usual in these events.

If you feel the need to help, please donate money (not goods) through a reputable agency.


Just goes to show that small incidents can create big problems.

A lightning strike hit the Hamiton water treatment plant and has caused all sorts of problems, taking out the computer systems, locking out the workers, and leading to loss of water or pressure in parts of town.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pays to double check where you camp

Thankfully, this family escaped with their lives, but it could have easily been a tragedy.

If you are out camping or tramping, it pays to keep an eye on the weather reports, especially any severe weather warnings from the MetService. If it's raining, be wary of rising river levels, and don't pitch your tent on river terraces & floodplains, otherwise you might find yourself in a similarly unfortunate situation.

Paekakariki Hill Rd - closed between noon & 3pm

Paekakariki Hill Road has been reopened after having some trees come down in the wind on Saturday. But there is still some tidying up that needs to happen, so the road will be temporarily closed again between noon and 3pm today to clear away some tree stumps.

Thank you for your co-operation

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Paekakariki Hill Road closed

The high winds and generally awful weather today have brought down a tree on Paekakariki Hill Road, and some others are looking like they are going to go too, so the road is closed until the roading contractors can get in there and clear it, which won't be until the wind dies down enough, and it gets light enough for them to work safely - so hopefully some time tomorrow.

Take care out there.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Aftershock on TV3 - Saturday 16 Jan - 8:30pm

The tele-movie Aftershock will be screening on TV3 next Saturday at 8:30pm, following on from last Saturday's Scorched - which was interestingly timed since I'd just gotten cleaned up after battling a scub fire up Mt Victoria. It's not even Disaster Awareness Week, or anything. They'll probably be screening Dante's Peak next... Reminds me, must go see 2012 for a laugh.

I'm not sure if TV3 is screening the factual TV follow-up, Aftershock – Would you Survive? but it's still all well worth watching anyway.

Anybody feel that quake?

Apparently there was a local earthquake on Saturday morning, just 10km west of Porirua. Once again I didn't feel a thing, but here are the stats from GeoNet.

The following earthquake has been recorded by GNS:

Reference number: 3228266/G
Universal Time: 2010/01/08 21:54:11
Local time (NZDT): 10:54
AM on Saturday 09 January 2010
Latitude, Longitude: 41.12S, 174.74E
NZ Map Grid (E, N): 2656000, 6008000
NZ Trans Merc (E, N): 1746000, 5447000
Location: 10 km west of Porirua
Focal depth: 30
Magnitude: 3.8

Web page:

MetService FTW!

Wow, people actually read this thing? Almost nobody comments, so it's hard to tell sometimes. Yes, that's a not-so-delicate hint to leave comments!

Well, apparently someone at the MetService read my last post, because about an hour and a half later I got a call from MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt. (Hi Bob!)

The wind that day had obviously committed a terrible diplomatic faux pas by not checking in with the embassy prior to arriving in Wellington.

I may grumble occassionally when my inbox fills up, and my phone doesn't stop beeping with weather warnings, and post terribly impolite blog titles when one little thing gets missed, but the MetService really does supply us with stunningly good service.

The weather warnings that we receive are immensly valuable to us, since weather is actually one of the events we can get advance notice of - forewarned is forearmed, as they say. There's been at least one occassion where one of the folks at the forecasting desk thought we needed a warning so much that they took the time to ring my cellphone and warn Porirua directly, rather than just relying on the mailing list. Great stuff! That's why the lack of a warning for this event was a bit of a shock.

But, as another example of the fine service that MetService provides, Mr McDavitt has provided me with some information on what happened on Thursday. So with the kind permission of the MetService, here's a graph of wind gusts in the area that day, and some explanatory information

Wind GUSTS in knots as recorded around the Wellington area during a brief localised damaging wind event on Thursday 7 January 2010.

Time stamp is in UTC as DD HH:MM (Coordinated Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time)

At KKW, Mt Kaukau, gusts were over 60 knots (111km/hr) lasting from 07 0200UTC to around 07 1430UTC, that's 3pm Thursday to 3:30am Friday local time.

At KLX, Kelburn, gusts were over 60 knots from 07 0700UTC to 07 1200UTC, that's 8pm Thursday to 1am Friday local time - duration 5 hours.

No other stations measured any gusts over 60 knots.

Decode for other stations (alphabetically by station code):
BRX = Brothers lighthouse in Cook Strait,
CSW= Centre Point at Seaview
HJX = Johnsonville
KRW=Karori Rock
LHX=Lower Hutt
MNX= Mana Island
PPA=Paraparaumu Airport
RIX = Rimutuka summit
WNA= Wellington Airport

Data copyright remains with MetService 2010.

Winds in this event where formed by a squeezing of the pressure gradient ahead of an incoming front and managed to affect the Johnsonville to Kelburn ridge area more than in normal pre-frontal events.

MetService is classing this as a MISSED EVENT for severe wind.

Bob McDavitt, MetService Weather Ambassador 8 Jan 2010.

Thankyou Mr Ambassador! I'll be sure to contact you again the next time some nasty weather arrives without having filed its paperwork with the embassy.

We love you, MetService! xxx

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hullo, MetService?

Over the holidays my phone kept beeping constantly with weather warnings for Wellington, for both wind and rain. Never did get around to reposting them here, sorry. But nothing much exciting happened here, though further up the coast had to close a bridge due to flooding.

It was windy, sure, but nothing that excessive. And then yesterday... power lines down, roofs (or should that be rooves, like dwarves?) lifting all over the Wellington area (well, Newtown & Tawa at least), the rollerdoor at the Tawa Rural Fire station was blown in, and not a peep of warning from the MetService. Harrumph.

And now, just when you thought you might get a nice weekend, MetService has issued a Severe Weather Watch for northwest gales for Wellington on Sunday, and there's a possibility of heavy rain for the Tararuas too. Despite missing the last event, I'm still generally inclined to believe them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Solomon Islands quakes

There has been a series of large quakes in the Solomon Islands, the biggest measuring 7.2, two of which have generated tsunamis. Thankfully for us, but unluckily for the Solomons, these are quite localised, and won't be affecting us here.