Monday, May 31, 2010

Who rescues the rescuers?

A landslide swept through an Otago camping ground on Saturday, shunting a building which had had up to 42 people sleeping inside, 6 metres across a roadway. Thankfully no one was injured in the incident, and those evacuated from the building were Red Cross emergency teams on a weekend training exercise. I'm betting they hadn't figured that into their planning!

Here's a few more articles from Stuff about the recent crappy weather in the South Island.

Listen for the sting

Actually, despite that headline, it's not a "new" sting alarm at all, it's the same old one, which most people probably don't recognise anymore.

Here's the Ministry's media release.

Civil defence emergency “sting” broadcast on radio

From Monday (31 May 2010) people might hear electronic civil defence emergency alarms on their radios.

The Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, John Hamilton, said that at first the alarms will be new radio commercials. Later, they could be the alarm signalling an emergency public safety message.

Mr Hamilton said the Ministry has made the commercials to help people recognise the distinctive electronic “sting” that radio stations will use before broadcasting official civil defence emergency messages.

What has been found overseas is that where there is no clear signal or alarm, public safety messages blend into the surrounding advertising and programming.

“That had tragic consequences in the Victorian bush fires,” Mr Hamilton said. “In the aftermath, authorities learned that many people did not respond to evacuation and other messages broadcast on their radios because they ‘heard’ them as commercials or other programmes, not as official warnings.”

In Victoria use of an alarm before a civil defence message is broadcast on the radio has now been made mandatory.

“We have not gone that far in New Zealand,” Mr Hamilton said. “We have worked with Radio New Zealand, The Radio Broadcasters’ Association, Radio Live and The Radio Network. They all take their emergency responsibilities seriously and have told us they want public safety messages to be as clear as possible.

“We are happy to look at how we could work with other broadcasters too.”

The Ministry has existing memorandums of understanding with radio and television broadcasters to broadcast official messages during emergencies.

Get Ready Get Thru

The new radio commercials promoting the “sting” are part of the Ministry’s Get Ready Get Thru public education programme. The next step of the campaign is three weeks of radio and television advertising starting on television on Sunday, 30 May 2010, and on radio on Monday, 31 May 2010.

New radio commercials can be heard on the downloads page of the Get Ready Get Thru website, and will feature:

  • The “sting” – the alarm radio stations can play before official civil defence messages.
  • The natural warnings of a local tsunami – a tsunami caused by an earthquake near the coast could arrive within minutes, long before a formal warning could be issued. People need to know the natural warnings that might come before a local tsunami.
  • Have a battery-powered radio. If there are power cuts during an emergency a battery powered radio is likely to be the only way many people would receive official messages.
  • Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Samoan and Hindi language on ethnic radio. The Get Ready Get Thru website can already be viewed in nine different languages, English, Te Reo, Samoan, Tongan, Korean, simplified and traditional Chinese, Hindi and Arabic.

Existing commercials will continue to be broadcast. They promote the need to have emergency items and water to last at least three days and an emergency plan that includes what to do when not at home as well as at home.

“The message throughout our campaign – in the advertising, schools’ resources, Yellow Pages notices, and all our other promotions – remains consistent,” Mr Hamilton said:

“Get ready now so you can get through.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nasty weather for the weekend

The MetService has obviously decided that this weekend should be spent indoors, curled up in front of the fire or a heater, reading a good book, as they've issued a Severe Weather Watch for severe southerly gales and heavy rain for our area.

A low currently northeast of the Bay of Plenty is expected to deepen as it passes the North Island east coast during Saturday. There is still some uncertainty as to how deep this low will get and this will determine the extent of any heavy rain and southerly gales. However, there is a risk that the southerly winds could briefly reach severe gale about parts of Wellington and Wairarapa late Saturday and Sunday morning, with significant rainfalls about the hills and ranges. A watch will be maintained for these areas, and the situation should become clearer nearer the event.

National Advisory - Tsunami - Potential Threat to NZ - CANCELLED

National Advisory: Tsunami - Potential threat to New Zealand Cancellation

No: 02

Issued at 06:42 hours on 28 May 2010

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

Tsunami advisory cancelled:
Scientific analysis suggests that there is no threat to New Zealand, based on the earthquake magnitude, location and orientation to New Zealand. The NCMC will remain monitoring for a while.

Earthquake parameters:

Origin time:

28 May 2010 05:15 NZST


13.7° S, 166.5° E




Vanuatu Islands


7.2 Mw

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


This is the last message via the national warning system for this event.

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

General enquiries to: 04 494 6900 (NCMC)
Media enquiries to: 04 494 6951

Useful websites:

Issued by:

Message authorised by the National Controller, Civil Defence Emergency Management.

End of Message

National Advisory - Tsunami - Potential Threat to NZ

I thought it was just another weather warning making my phone beep, but no...

A magnitude 7.3 (initially thought to be 7.6) earthquake off the coast of Vanuatu has lead to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issuing a Tsunami Warning for Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, based purely on the earthquake data - and its size & location also means that a Potential Threat advisory has been issued for New Zealand.

National Advisory: Tsunami - Potential Threat to New Zealand

No: 01

A tsunami potential threat advisory is in effect for New Zealand:
The advisory will remain in effect until it is upgraded to a national warning or a cancellation message is issued by MCDEM.

An earthquake has occurred with these parameters:

Origin time:

17:15 ZULU 27 MAY 2010

NZ time:

05:27NZST 28 MAY 2010


13.7 SOUTH 166.5 EAST


20 KM





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 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 is possible. MCDEM and scientific advisors are assessing the severity of the threat to New Zealand.

If a tsunami has been generated, the first wave may arrive in New Zealand .
The first wave may arrive later and may not be the largest. Waves may continue for several hours.

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.

MCDEM and scientific advisors are closely monitoring the situation to determine whether a tsunami has been generated and to assess the severity of the threat to New Zealand. More information about this event will follow.

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

NCMC status:

The National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) is being activated.

Further information:

A further update with more information will follow within the next hour. Until a cancellation is issued, updates will continue at least hourly. All further updates will be communicated by MCDEM via the national warning system.

Media enquires to 04 494 6951.

Useful websites:

Issued by:

Message authorised by the National Controller, Civil Defence Emergency Management.

End of Message

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weather will cause traffic problems

With continuing heavy rain causing road closures all over the show, commuters trying to get to work tomorrow are going to have a hell of a time.

All we can recommend is patience. Don't drive through floodwaters, be patient with other people who are being more cautious than you, and especially don't be the idiot towing a trailer who overtook someone who had slowed down to negotiate some surface flooding - I saw you....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Finally get time to get on to the internet.

I guess that'll teach me to talk too soon...

There has been a long band of heavy rain lined up on Porirua/Tawa, and there is flooding throughout town. The worst unfortunately coincided with high tide, so that didn't do wonders for the stormwater drainage. Homes have been evacuated in various areas (mostly Tawa). Titahi Bay was cut off for a couple of hours. The Porirua Stream exceeded its 5yr flood level (but thankfully is now receding), and it all looks set to continue until 6am, with the next high tide around 8am.

EDIT: And here's some footage provided by one of our locals - thanks!

Police advisory

From the Police Comms Centre:

Police would like to advise that, due to the weather/rain conditions, there is reasonable flooding in the following State Highway areas - Tawa / Churton Park /
Petone including the Petone Esplanade. Drivers are warned to reduce speed and be patient.

Take care out there please, folks.

Flooding around the country

While the Wellington area and Porirua seem to have been spared the worse of this latest weather system, other parts of the country haven't gotten off so lightly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bad weather on the way

I'm not entirely sure how much of this we're going to catch, but keep a weather eye open all the same.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A year on - what's happened to swine flu?

Golly, it's been over a year already!

Here's the latest media release from the Ministry of Health on the matter -

It's still out there, though from my point of view, it was a bit of a damp squib for a pandemic - not that I'm complaining, mind you! I'd much rather not have to deal with a full-blown, lock-the-country-down pandemic, thank you very much. I'm not saying it's not a killer either, I know two friends of friends who are among the 18,036 confirmed fatalities.

Question is, was it a damp squib because we jumped on it early and stamped it out? Would it have been that much worse if we had just treated it like another seasonal variation? Who knows. You either get accused of not doing enough if it's a biggy, or accused of overreacting if your efforts to contain it actually have the effect of limiting it significantly.

You know we could limit the spread of seasonal flu too. If everyone takes the same precautions that they were taking this time last year, we could drop the annual death toll from these kinds of illnesses. Washing hands, covering coughs, staying away from people if you are sick - all really basic stuff that we don't do enough of. It's a crying shame that more businesses can't give their staff the sick leave they actually need to prevent the spread of illness - I'm sure the cost/benefit analysis would show the value of it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quake swarm

My phone has been beeping away at all hours recently, informing me that Whakatane has had yet another tremor.

So far today they've had
4.3 at 2:38am
3.2 at 2:48
4.0 at 3:42
3.7 at 4:21
3.7 at 5:03
3.5 at 6:18
3.1 at 7:31
2.8 at 9.19
3.3 at 9:54
3.7 at 12:08pm
3.0 at 12:13

and that's just today's line up so far, it doesn't include the ones from throughout last week , or include the little ones that people aren't likely to feel. Geonet has a brief article about it -

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy Wednesday - Severe weather watch

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Watch for Wellington & South Wairarapa for heavy rain tomorrow.

A small low drifting offshore southern Wairarapa is expected to slowly spread some rain into southern Wairarapa overnight and into Wellington from early Wednesday morning. There is a possibility that the rain may become heavy for a time on Wednesday, especially over southern Wairarapa, but the latest guidance would suggest that warning amounts are now less likely. The rain is expected to ease late Wednesday.
In the meantime, this watch will be maintained in case the situation changes and a warning is required.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't click that link

Unfortunately this blog attracts a fair bit of spam in the comments - usually strings of random characters with a hyperlink that will probably take you to a website full of malware. If the comment doesn't seem to make any sense, and there's a link, don't click it. If you hover your mouse over the link without clicking it, it'll generally show that the link is probably to something pornographic, and virus laden.