What threat to us are more intense storms?

As storms intensify due to climate change our coastal environment becomes ever more vulnerable.

Remember the River Cut? North bank on right of photo; rock groyne mid-right.

We know that Ex-Tropical Cyclone Gita in February 2018 was responsible for some severe erosion along the Waikawa Beach coast by the end of Manga Pirau Street. That makes the following RNZ News item of particular interest to our community:

A new paper on Earthquake Commission (EQC) payouts has revealed weather-related claims are more likely to come from properties close to the coast.

EQC covers homeowners for damage to land and in some cases to dwellings and contents caused by a landslip, storm or flood.

… while the average New Zealand home was approximately 11km away from the coast, the average property lodging a claim to EQC after a weather event was only 6km away. …

“Most of the damages from these weather events are from the ex-tropical cyclones coming from the north,” [Victoria University of Wellington’s Ilan Noy] said. …

Niwa chief scientist climate, atmosphere and hazards Sam Dean said while the number of ex-cyclones and other storms was not necessarily increasing in number, their intensity was.

“New Zealand is a degree warmer than it used to be, thanks to the emission of greenhouse gases.

That meant storms were between 7 and 20 percent more intense, he said. …

It raised the issue of whether the taxpayer should be subsidising those living on the coast.

Coastal properties responsible for most EQC weather-related claims.

In our case too, any normal high tide pushes up the Waikawa River, but storms and surges could erode our river bank, perhaps over time coming to threaten the houses on the north side of Manga Pirau Street.

Just look slightly upstream of the rock groyne to see how the low rock wall beside the river already has gaps in it.

Slightly upstream of the rock groyne the low rock wall beside the river already has gaps in it.
Slightly upstream of the rock groyne the low rock wall beside the river already has gaps in it.

Who knows how slowly or quickly further erosion could happen?

In any case, it’s worth some thought, along with considering what action, if any, we should be taking in these early days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *