Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warning downgraded to an Advisory

Apologies for the delay in the flow of information here - we stood down around noon, and I was sent home to get some much needed sleep.

From the update from 14:55

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a Tsunami Cancellation in response to the above earthquake. However, based on scientific advice, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management has downgraded the national warning to an advisory. There is still a likelihood of surges and rapid sea level changes to continue for up to 24 hours after the initial wave arrivals. Wave heights could be larger than what we have currently experienced but within the threat levels and wave height estimates that have been previously forecast. Strong currents are expected in harbours and restricted waterways. The Chatham Islands and Banks Peninsula could still expect wave heights of between 1 and 3 metres. This represents risks to people in boats and on beaches for coastal communities in the east coast of the North and South Island and particularly Chatham Islands and Banks Peninsula.

And from the one at 17:10

Monitored tidal gauges continue to show wave action of up to 1 metre on the east coast of the North and South Islands and at the Chatham Islands. There is no indication of any decrease in wave amplitude.

Scientific advice is that there is still a likelihood of surges and rapid sea level changes over the 24 hours after the initial wave arrivals. Wave heights could be larger than what we have currently experienced but within the threat levels and wave height estimates that have been previously forecast. The Ministry of Civil Defence& Emergency Management will keep the advisory in place overnight and will review this at 0800 hours on Monday 1 March 2010.

So continue to stay off the beaches and stay out of the water, so you don't end up earning yourself a Darwin Award for removing yourself from the gene pool. <--- that bit's not from the updates, the Ministry's more polite.

First waves at Chathams

We've had an initial indication of wave heights at the Chatham Islands. The first wave observed was about 20cm, the next was about half a metre, and the next ones are expected to be bigger still, running about 25 minutes later than the previously advised arrival times.

EDIT 9:55 Pitt Island recorded a 1.5m wave.

Next 24 hours - Stay off the beaches, stay out of the water

For the next 24 hours, stay off the beaches, and stay out of the water - that includes swimming, surfing, boating, fishing etc. The currents and surges generated by tsunami can be very dangerous.

Police, Fire Service & Coastguard have been dispatched to clear beaches. Please follow their instructions.

If you're going to ignore their advice, you should consider writing your name and date of birth on your arm in permanent marker, it might make it easier to identify your body.

Latest update

From latest advisory update:

Based on preliminary modelling and comparison with historical events, the interpretation of the Tsunami Experts Panel is that a marine threat (ie threat to beach and small boats) exists for the entire east coasts of the North & South Islands from Puysegur around to Cape Reinga and extending south to Ahipara. Some land threat also exists (ie wave heights between 1 and 3 metres) for the Chatham Islands and Banks Peninsula. Wave height refers to maximum water level relevant to the normal sea level at the beach. This does not take tides into account. (PEMO note - high tide of 1.5m will occur in Porirua Harbour at 10.43am) Based on historicalk events it is expected that the greatest wave heights will occur between 6 and 12 hours after the initial arrivals.

See previous post for arrival times.

National Advisory - Tsunami Threat to NZ

National Warning: Tsunami Threat to New Zealand

No: 01

Issued at 23:18 hours on 27/02/2010

Issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM).

A tsunami warning is in effect for New Zealand:
The tsunami warning will remain in effect until a cancellation message is issued by MCDEM.

An earthquake has occurred with these parameters:

Origin time:

06:34 z

NZ time:



36.1 South 72.6 West


55 KM


Near Coast of Central Chile



The above magnitude is provisional and may be increased or decreased as more seismic data becomes available.


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a Tsunami Information Bulletin for New Zealand in response to the above earthquake.

Only messages issued by MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand. Local civil defence authorities may supplement these messages by applying local threat assessments.

A tsunami has been generated.

If a tsunami has been generated, the first wave may arrive in New Zealand in the areas around Chatham Island (Waitangi Side) at approximately 07:05 HRS NZDT 28/02/2010. The first wave may arrive later and may not be the largest .Waves may continue for several hours.

The travel and arrival times that have been calculated for the rest of new zealand:

Location Place Travel Time Arrival Time
-36.8300 174.8200 Auckland, North Head 14:48 10:22 (NZDT)
-46.6000 168.3300 Bluff 13:23 8:58 (NZDT)
-43.5900 172.7300 Christchurch, New Brighton 13:30 9:05 (NZDT)
-43.7300 183.4300 Chatham Island, Kaingaroa 11:47 7:22 (NZDT)
-43.9500 183.7300 Chatham Island, Waitangi 11:30 7:05 (NZDT)
-45.9200 170.4800 Dunedin, St Clair 12:55 8:29 (NZDT)
-37.6800 178.5500 East Cape 12:20 7:54 (NZDT)
-38.6700 178.0200 Gisborne 12:25 7:59 (NZDT)
-42.4500 171.2000 Greymouth, Blaketown 14:16 9:50 (NZDT)

-44.6800 174.9300 Milford Sound 12:01 7:36 (NZDT)
-39.5000 176.9000 Napier 12:49 8:23 (NZDT)
-34.4200 173.0500 North Cape 13:20 8:54 (NZDT)
-41.2700 173.2800 Nelson 14:30 10:05 (NZDT)
-39.0700 174.0700 New Plymouth 15:22 10:56 (NZDT)
-46.9000 168.1500 Stewart Island, Halfmoon Bay 13:47 9:21 (NZDT)
-37.6500 176.2000 Tauranga, Mt Maunganui 13:00 8:34 (NZDT)
-44.3800 171.2500 Timaru, Caroline Bay 13:03 8:37 (NZDT)
-41.2200 174.3200 Tory Channel, East Head 13:04 8:38 (NZDT)
-39.9500 174.9800 Wanganui, Castlecliff 14:14 9:49 (NZDT)
-41.7500 171.6000 Westport 14:34 10:08 (NZDT)
-41.3700 174.8500 Wellington, Pencarrow Head 12:51 8:25 (NZDT)
-35.8500 174.5800 Whangarei, Bream Head 13:41 9:15 (NZDT)

People in coastal areas should:

1. Stay off beaches
2. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
3. Do not go sightseeing
4. Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
6. Follow instructions of your local Civil Defence authorities.

Current assessment is
for a non destructive tsnuami for new zealand, wave heights at the shore of between 0.2 and 1 metre. Scientific Advisors confirm a possible marine threat along the east coast of the North Island, South Island and Chatham Islands, possibly over 1 Metre.

This warning has been issued to all local civil defence authorities, emergency services, other agencies and media.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

National Advisory - Tsunami - NO THREAT to NZ

A magnitude 8.5 (EDIT: revised to 8.8) earthquake has struck near the coast of central Chile at 7.34pm NZ time.

Origin time:


NZ time:



36.1 South 72.6 West


55 KM


Near Coast of Central Chile



The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a Tsunami Information Bulletin in response to the above earthquake.

Only messages issued by MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand.

MCDEM has assessed the information with the assistance of scientific advisors. Based on current information, the initial assessment is that the earthquake is unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will pose a threat to New Zealand.

This advisory has been issued to all local civil defence authorities, emergency services, other agencies and media.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Titahi Bay fire - 21 February to 1 March

Well now, that was all a bit exciting, wasn't it?

A little bit before 5pm on Sunday, I was alerted to a scrub fire at Shelley/Onehunga Bay, at Whitireia Park. With the wind blowing, it quickly escalated to a very large fire, ripping up and over the hill towards Titahi Bay Golf Club, and then the houses in the area. First the Golf Club was evacuated, and then a few houses, and once we were getting whole streets needing to leave, the EOC was activated, and we set up a welfare centre at Niblick Hall in Titahi Bay for the evacuees - providing tea & coffee, and toilet facilities, as well as information as it came to hand. I met quite a few interesting people that evening. People's pets was quite a topic for discussion, especially as many had been unable to find their cats. I hope they all return safely.

While about 60 homes (roughly 150 people) were evacuated as a safety precaution, we probably only had around 30 people through the centre, and nobody ended up needing us to provide accommodation, as everyone managed to arrange their own with friends and family in the area. Takapuwahia Marae was ready and able to provide accommodation to those in need, and we also had several generous offers from residents offering beds for strangers. I really am touched to see the community spirit of the people of Porirua. Thank you everybody!

Special thanks have to go to Victim Support, and the Red Cross for staffing the centre, and to the Painters and the Niblick Hall Management Committee for allowing the use of their hall in our time of need - and putting up with late night phone calls from me! HUGE thanks also to the Salvation Army who were sent up the hill to look after the catering for the crews who were working. You are all awesome, and a pleasure to work with.

A little bit before midnight, we got the word that some people on Gloaming Hill Rd could return home, but the rest would have to stay away until the next day, and the people waiting at the centre dispersed, so with nothing left to do, we packed up and the staff went home to their beds.

I'm sure I was supposed to as well, but I wanted to keep an eye on what was going on, and get some rather delayed dinner, so I headed up to the Incident Control Point up at the Golf Club, where the Salvation Army was doing an abolutely stirling job of keeping the troops fed - and there were a lot of troops to feed, even at 1.30am when I left to get some sleep.

I was sure I'd only just put my head down to sleep when the alarm went off at 6am. Back up at the Golf Club by 7am, giving a radio interview in the ladies' toilets at 7.15 (it was away from the noise of the helicopters), and then off to spend the rest of the day actually firefighting with the Wellington Rural Fire Force. Probably one of the hardest days of physical labour I've done in my life! There were still plenty of hot spots and even occassional flare-ups when we were relieved around 4pm.

At least I think it was around 4pm, I know I was home by 5, and asleep by 8. The past two days have really blended into one long day for me, I keep saying yesterday when I mean Sunday.

Hotspots continue to smoulder and occassionally flare-up today (being Tuesday - it is Tuesday, right?), so the work is not yet over. I'll be spending this evening cleaning all the hose we used. Murphy's Law says we'll end up having to use it again as soon as it's been cleaned...

There are heaps of really impressive photos of the fire, on site like Stuff, etc. The view from Paremata was particularly impressive. Less impressively, I know my boss has a few of me looking incredibly filthy, covered in soot. I might post one later for laughs.

Thanks again to everyone who helped or offered help over the past few days. It's truly appreciated.

EDIT 24/2/10: I'll keep changing the dates as the flare-ups continue, which they do.
EDIT 25/2/10: Despite the rain last night, it really wasn't enough, there are still plenty of hotspots around. More work by ground crews will be required before we can call this one out.
EDIT 26/2/10: There were about 20 hotspots recorded during a flyover yesterday, and the rain early this morning still won't have been enough to knock them out - in fact the weather station at Titahi Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant didn't record any rain at all.
EDIT 4/3/10: The fire was declared out at noon on Monday 1 March.

Friday, February 19, 2010


According to Stuff, a magnitude 5 earthquake rattled the lower North Island at 6:02 this morning. Didn't feel a thing, was fast asleep. But, if you are less of a heavy sleeper, or are one of those strange people who wake up early in the morning, and perhaps felt it, the details are below.

Universal Time: 2010/02/18 17:02:38
Local time (NZDT): 06:02 AM on Friday 19 February 2010
Latitude, Longitude: 40.17S, 173.78E
NZ Map Grid (E, N): 2576000, 6115000
NZ Trans Merc (E, N): 1666000, 5553000
Location: 80 km south-west of Hawera
Focal depth: 170
Magnitude: 5.0

Web page:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Porirua EMO on Facebook

And now we have a Facebook page too! Just search for Porirua Emergency Management Office. It's mostly going to be links back to this blog (which will be really recursive when I link to this post!), but there is a discussion board (where I've already posted my Emergency Management vs Civil Defence rant), and feel free to leave approriate comments!

Given our current inability to update the council's emergency update page from anything but a council networked PC (i.e. going to the office and updating it), I figure the more avenues for getting information out the better. I can update all the social networking sites from home, and even my phone.

I can't guarrantee that I'll get to them in a large scale emergency, so you'd have to rely on the media releases coming out, but I'll keep them as up-to-date as I (or the Public Information Manager) can.

Shaken awake

So, who felt that doozy of an earthquake in the early hours of Saturday morning?

Information courtesy of GNS.

Universal Time: 2010/02/12 13:41:35
Local time (NZDT): 02:41 AM on Saturday 13 February 2010
Latitude, Longitude: 40.91S, 174.94E
NZ Map Grid (E, N): 2674000, 6031000
NZ Trans Merc (E, N): 1764000, 5470000
Location: Within 5 km of Paraparaumu
Focal depth: 60
Magnitude: 5.0

Felt like something had given the bed a good shove. And as further proof that animals are no good at predicting earthquakes, my cat slept through it.

Don't forget to fill in a felt quake report, if it woke you up.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Companion animals during emergencies

A quite interesting blog post on Stuff about pets and emergencies -

Companion animals is something that needs to be looked at seriously. The most pertinent paraphrased quote that I heard came from someone looking at the aftermath of various US hurricanes - until we deal with the issue of companion animals in our planning, people will continue to die. If people aren't allowed to take their animals with them when they evacuate, some people will refuse to leave.

Some of the comments on that blog post are great - it's good to see that people have actually thought about how they are going to take care of their pets. Other comments not so much...

Severe weather warning & watch

The MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for severe gales for Wellington and Wairarapa tomorrow, as well as a Severe Weather Watch for heavy rain in the Tararuas. If you're planning on going out tramping etc, keep a weather eye on the forecast.