The Face of NZ's Power Fiasco's giving me a headache
Energy Minister Pete Hodgson

COMMENT:  In 2001, TWM wrote to Minister Pete Hodgson offering assistance in ending the power crisis. Predictably, the Minister evaded the issue and shifted responsibility to the electricity generators. Hodgson has regular meetings with power chief executives so the proposal could easily have been discussed. Since there was no further response it is probable that the offer was ignored.

TWM retaliated by prolonging the drought in 2002.
Now, in 2003, the power crisis has returned to haunt Hodgson.
The lack of any response from the CEO of Meridian Energy (Dr. Keith Turner) to TWM's offer of 14 April suggests that any negotiation will be problematic. (Correction: 15 May, a strange reply from Meridian was received.)
1. POWER Crisis, TWM and the Prime Minister - see "Letter to Helen".
2. TWM's severe weather demo - See below.
3. NIWA - Summary of Winter Hazards, 2003.
4. MORE on power crisis in 2004
THE SITUATION since 2002.
Dry, getting drier
THE PRESS 10 January, 2003
This year the dry can be officially confirmed as having arrived, after the release of Niwa's withering statistics – soil moisture deficits of more than 100mm in the region. But the forecasters have been telling us for months that El Nino was probably on its way, with hot winds, and lack of rain on the east coast. We were warned... 
Government eyes farm drought relief
NZ Herald April 14, 2003
The Government and Ministry of Agriculture officials are considering relief measures for drought-hit regions of the North Island. Parts of the lower North Island are suffering under the worst drought conditions in up to 30 years, with no end in sight despite recent rainfall. The drought is also expected to affect the country's growth forecasts...most farmers had not been prepared for the drought in what was traditionally a reliable rainfall region. The drought is also starting to affect businesses relying on the rural economy.
Drought holds nasty potential
nzoom May 29, 2003
Drought is already beginning to impact on the economy says Deutsche Bank. Given that farm exports amounted to $12.3 billion in 2002 - 40% of goods exports and around 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) - any weakness in the farm sector is of considerable significance to the economy says the bank.
"This is especially so with farm exports already $1.6 billion weaker in 2002 than a year earlier...Lack of grass growth means winter feed is being used now... As a result milk production is said to be down 7% on last year, and falling... "A 5% drop in dairy production across the country would cost the country around $300 million (0.3% of GDP)," the bank says.
Farming's slump takes a $1b toll 
NZ Herald 29.05.2003
A farming slump has wiped more than $1 billion off New Zealand's gross domestic product. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry estimates that agriculture's contribution to GDP fell 15 per cent to $7.97 billion in the year to March. A cold spring and summer drought - yet to break in parts of the lower North Island - have combined with high commodity prices and a rising dollar to hit farmers and growers hard. Hail and frost damage last spring cut apple and kiwifruit exports by about 6 per cent and slashed the grape harvest by half. Poor weather also affected stock weights, and the number of lamb births next season is expected to be down. Federated Farmers vice-president Charlie Pedersen said it was a just a matter of time before the hard times flowed through to the rest of the economy. In areas worst hit by drought, farm incomes had fallen by half. But the whole industry was hurting, Pedersen said. MAF predicts little relief for farmers...
Drought dries up farm profits
NZ Herald June 17, 2003
Many farmers are facing lower incomes and restricted spending over the next year as the drought and low prices hit their balance sheets.
Grass back, but families suffer
NZ Herald July 12, 2003
The worst drought in decades has finally broken on the North Island's west coast. The drought is estimated to have cost the rural economy up to $180 million, mostly in Taranaki and Manawatu.

Power crisis looms, prices unstable
ONE News March 20, 2003
There are warnings the country is heading into a power crisis that could mean blackouts and bigger bills for homeowners.
Energy Minister hints at winter of discontent
NZ Herald Friday March 21, 2003
Energy Minister Pete Hodgson has raised fears of another dry winter and high power prices, saying a new power-savings push is on the way.
Call for action on looming crisis
ONE News March 24, 2003
The Prime Minister is threatening a shake-up of the electricity industry as power cuts loom this winter, but one of Labour's political allies says the government is not doing enough right now to avert a crisis.
Underpowered for winter
NZ Herald Monday March 31, 2003
The electricity industry is in crisis, whether there is a winter power shortage or not.
Electricity shortage would mean disruption
NZ Herald Thursday April 24, 2003 
The Government yesterday warned of social and economic disruption if a dry winter hits electricity supplies. Finance Minister Michael Cullen told a Greypower meeting in Dunedin there was a "very real prospect" of a dry winter. 
Power crisis becoming big business
ONE News April 29, 2003
Hardware stores say the power crisis is sparking a rush for hot water cylinder wraps and gas appliances.
Friend and foe attack Government over power
NZ Herald  01 May 2003
The Government came under pressure from friends and enemies in Parliament yesterday over the electricity crisis that threatens to disrupt power supplies this winter. Energy Minister Pete Hodgson was mocked for claiming there were "much improved" scenario modelling systems in place. Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen told Parliament on Tuesday that a dry year had not been expected as early as 2003. Mr Hodgson said the present problem was caused by record low inflows to the hydro storage lakes, not a shortage of new generation. 
Power savings up but cold showers looming 
NZ Herald  09 May 2003
Winter Power Taskforce head Patrick Strange said today the country needed 10 per cent savings. Meanwhile New Zealand's industrial and commercial sectors have lost sales of $20.6 million because of the ongoing crisis, the Major Electricity Users Group (MEUG) said yesterday... MEUG members use about 33 per cent of New Zealand's electricity. They include Comalco, Carter Holt Harvey and Fletcher Building...
Electricity crisis fuels jobs fears
NZ Herald 13 May 2003
Unions are backing the appeal for national power savings because of fears of job losses if householders do not switch off enough lights and appliances.
Power savings hide full story
THE PRESS 14 May 2003
New Zealand may be closer to the elusive 10 per cent power savings target than official figures show. National savings could be more than 7 per cent, because cuts by big industrial users are not being counted as they were in 2001. Comalco said last month it had cut its operations by 10 per cent.
Keep on switching off is plea from Hodgson 
NZ Herald 14 May 2003 
Power savings must close in soon on the 10 per cent target to avoid serious problems, says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson. National and Act MPs again accused Mr Hodgson of failing to learn from previous power shortages, and of ignoring the warning signs that pointed to a dry winter this year.
Power prices dip as lakes climb
NZ Herald  01 July 2003
Heavy rainfall in the South Island during the past week has pushed hydro lake levels up - and wholesale
power prices are the lowest since January. There is now 2784 gigawatt hours of electricity stored in hydro lakes, which is 98 per cent of average for this time of year.
Meridian says Thank you with $1.65m power reward
Scoop 11 July 2003
Meridian Energy is to donate a cash and energy efficiency package worth $650,000 to Plunket, in recognition of the country’s effort towards achieving a 10 percent saving in power. The power generator and retailer will also pay a total of $1m to reward its top 10,000 eligible energy savers over the winter period.
Power company pays savers
nzoom 11 July, 2003
With the end of the power shortage, one energy company is donating $2.5 million to organisations which helped it survive the crisis by saving electricity. Contact Energy says the more its customers saved then the bigger the payout.

UPDATE: (August, 2003)
Fast-rising power prices give big businesses a jolt
NZ Herald Monday 04 August, 2003
Some of New Zealand's biggest electricity users are considering moving overseas to avoid looming power price increases. [...]
Energy shortages threaten NZ - report 
STUFF Monday, 25 August 2003
New Zealand takes access to energy for granted, but the country is vulnerable to shortages, a new report says. The Centre for Advanced Engineering (CAE) report issued yesterday said New Zealand faced increased dependence on volatile global oil markets unless a robust nationally-agreed strategy was developed to ensure supplies of energy... "Despite plentiful primary energy sources, New Zealand remains vulnerable to the risks of shortages of consumer energy including electricity and transport fuels," Dr Hooper said. [...]
High dollar, electricity costs take toll on NZ Refining Co
NZ Herald Friday August 29, 2003
New Zealand Refining Co said yesterday that its June half-year net profit fell 39 per cent to $14.1 million because of the high New Zealand dollar and high electricity costs in the March quarter... Operating costs were well above plan due to electricity costs being $9.2 million higher than budgeted. [...]
COMMENT: $1.65 million plus $2.5 million plus $20.6 million plus $180 million... It's all adding up to be a very successful exercise in drought generation. The overall negative impact on the economy is possibly 5 times the official estimate. Maybe more long term. (See news report, 04 August, above)

Govt assurance on electricity 
STUFF 16 December 2003 
Plans are ready to guard against another autumn power crisis should dry weather continue through the summer, according to the Government. Energy Minister Pete Hodgson made reassuring noises yesterday that New Zealand was far better prepared for any depletion of southern hydro-lakes in the first half of next year than it had been this time last year. While parts of Canterbury and Otago were now starting to seriously dry out, a growing stockpile of coal in the North Island and rapid progress on the 150 megawatt (MW) Whirinaki dry-year reserve power station stood the country in good stead for next winter, he said. [...]
Power prices drop as rain fills hydro lakes 
NZ Herald Wednesday December 17, 2003
Average electricity prices fell between eight and 12 per cent over the past week on healthy inflows and amid steady demand, analysts said today. "We've had a period of really good hydro inflows in the last three to four days especially into the Waitaki catchment where stored electricity over the past week rose 10 per cent," an analyst said. [...]
COMMENT: A month later and it's an entirely different story.
Killer nor'wester batters South Island
STUFF Saturday, 10 January 2004
Hurricane-strength nor'westerlies wreaked havoc across the South Island yesterday, killing a Christchurch woman and smashing massive pylons that carry the inter-island power link. Heavy rain washed out roads, temporarily closing Arthurs and Lewis passes and causing flash floods on the West Coast. Further inland, at Molesworth Station, wind gusts of more than 160kmh toppled three 40m-tall pylons. Their collapse cut power transmission between the North Island and South Island but no blackouts were caused. [...]
Winds hamper repair efforts 
THE PRESS Saturday, 10 January 2004
Continuing high winds were yesterday hampering repair efforts after three massive electricity pylons were skittled by hurricane-strength gusts of winds on Thursday night. The Transpower pylons, in the heart of Molesworth Station, carried the South Island's power supply to the north... the line is unlikely to be restored for at least five days. Transpower estimated gusts must have reached 200kmh to have toppled the pylons which are designed to withstand 160kmh winds... Transpower general manager Kieran Devine said... North Island generators were bringing extra generating capacity on line to cover for the loss of South Island electricity. The loss of the lines pushed up power prices in Auckland. 
Winds blow out inter-island power link 
NZ Herald Saturday January 10, 2004
Power supplies to the North Island were thrown into disarray yesterday when high winds blew down three 40m transmission towers in the South Island... The line failure early yesterday caused market-driven electricity prices to rocket in the North Island... The high prices caused a shutdown at one of the North Island's biggest consumers of electricity, the Pan Pac Forest Products pulp manufacturing plant north of Napier. [...]
Power price surges spark row 
NZ Herald  Tuesday January 13, 2004
Fresh debate over possible flaws in the wholesale electricity market has broken out after huge price surges followed a cut in the power line connecting the North and South Islands... Prices in the upper North Island soared yesterday from less than 10c a kilowatt hour to 108c a kilowatt hour. Big North Island power users, particularly pulp and paper makers, were forced to cut production... since wholesale prices became too expensive... These users, however, say that price volatility over the past few days indicates an unstable market...  Energy intensive industries had lost confidence in the ability of the sector to provide secure supplies of electricity at competitive prices. [...]
Power-price surge predicted by electricity companies 
STUFF Tuesday, 20 January 2004 
Christchurch power users have ducked the latest round of power-price rises. But power firms are warning residents and businesses that further price increases are inevitable. Contact Energy subsidiary EmPower, TrustPower, and Genesis have all announced imminent electricity price rises ranging between 7 per cent and 15% for some of their North Island customers. [...]
Hodgson lost over power price increases
Press Release: New Zealand National Party  Wednesday, 28 January 2004
Energy Minister Pete Hodgson's ignorance of power price increases has been exposed, says National's Energy spokesperson Roger Sowry... "It seems that Mr Hodgson had no real idea about the price hikes of up to 15%, and tried to cover his tracks by getting advice after the fact. "The advice also confirms that the Government is to blame for the high cost of new generation. [...]
Meridian to raise power prices soon
Meridian Energy yesterday indicated it would be raising prices in Invercargill within six months. [...]
Power shortages predicted
nzoom Mar 02, 2004
Electricity consumers have been warned that power prices could rise sharply as electricity generation fails to meet demand. George Hooper, from the Centre for Advanced Engineering, says the country could face shortages as early as 2006. Chief executive of state-owned Meridian Energy Keith Turner says the crisis could be as serious as the oil shocks of the 1970s. [...]
Urgent power debate needed - Meridian
STUFF 03 March 2004
New Zealand needs to urgently debate how it will meet its rapidly growing power needs, state-owned power company Meridian says. Company spokesman Alan Seay said today the country's power needs were growing at a rate of about 2 per cent a year, meaning an additional 150 megawatts of power was needed each year. That new demand was equivalent to the power use of a city the size of Dunedin or Hamilton, he said. Meridian is currently pushing a $1.3 billion proposal, dubbed Project Aqua, for a new canal-based hydro project on the Waitaki River. Parliament tomorrow will hold a closed select committee hearing into regulatory issues surrounding the project leading to some accusations that Meridian is highlighting power shortages to help its drive for regulatory approval for the project. [...]
Power bills may rise after Aqua canned
THE PRESS Tuesday, 30 March 2004
Power bills are tipped to rise after state electricity firm Meridian Energy pulled the plug on the $1.2 billion Project Aqua hydro scheme yesterday. The electricity industry warned that the abandonment of Aqua, the biggest hydro project since the Clyde Dam, would mean more uncertainty about supplies and higher prices. Meridian chief executive Keith Turner said a string of uncertainties had built up around the project making it commercially imprudent to proceed. Project Aqua would have provided enough electricity for 375,000 homes in a typical year. It had been expected to start producing electricity about 2009... Meridian revealed it had spent nearly $100 million buying land and completing reports and studies for the hydro scheme that involved diverting about 70 per cent of the lower Waitaki River, on the border between Canterbury and Otago, into a canal on which six small power stations were to be built. Of that, nearly $50 million was on land that Meridian might sell, but $45 million in expenses would have to be written off.
Blackout warning: users be prepared
STUFF Monday, 14 June 2004
Electricity companies are warning householders to get torches and battery-powered radios ready in case of power blackouts, made more likely by predictions of severe weather this week. The South Island, from Timaru north, is facing its third power crisis in four years as electricity companies admit the transmission grid is barely coping with demand...Yesterday, the MetService was warning of heavy rain in the South Island on Tuesday and Wednesday. A cold southerly would then sweep the island, resulting in plunging temperatures and snow to low levels from Southland to Canterbury. The scramble is under way to persuade major power consumers to switch off early in the evening, and to turn to stand-by generation such as diesel generators... A spokesman for the Energy Minister, Pete Hodgson, said the Minister accepted ultimate responsibility for the situation...The previous two winter power crises were triggered by low water levels in South Island hydro lakes. Ironically, this year southern hydro lakes have been within – or have been exceeding – normal operating levels.

From "Cold Showers" to "Cold Snaps", 2003
TWM has one advantage in any POWER play with Pakeha institutions. 
Tactics and methods can change - anytime, anywhere (below).
Worst cold snap in many years
nzoom  04 July 2003
Bitterly cold weather is moving up the South Island and is expected to send temperatures plummeting to very low levels, even for this time of year.
Winter tightens its grip on NZ
nzoom  04 July 2003
A southerly blast that prompted strong warnings from weather forecasters moved onto the North Island overnight, leaving much of the South Island blanketed in snow. Meteorologist Andy Fraser said the last substantial fall to sea level was in 1996.
Big chill brings shivers to north
NZ Herald  05 July 2003
Waikato and Auckland face hail and thunderstorms today from a polar front beating a path up the country. 
Road controllers warned that roads across the Central Plateau, including the Desert Road, could be closed and snow would make driving conditions treacherous. MetService said the spiralling mass of polar air from Antarctica could bring snow to places that do not usually see it. It was expected to fall as low as 200m above sea level, reaching the upper areas of Wellington suburbs, the Rimutaka Ranges, and parts of Hawkes Bay and the Gisborne ranges. Between 20cm and 30cm of snow was expected as low as 700m on the Central Plateau. Three different weather systems are marching up the country, the last a polar blast of icy air that was expected to hit Wellington overnight.
Prime Minister Helen Clark's plans were affected by the weather when her flight in an Air Force Beech King Air twin-engined aircraft to open an alpine hut on Mt Cook-Aoraki was deemed too dangerous.
The cold front, followed by a small high-pressure system with a mass of cold air behind it, caused widespread snowfalls in the lower South Island. The big chill will be back on Monday when a cold front moves up the South Island's east coast.
Storm creates road havoc and power outages
NZ Herald  06 July 2003
Power was cut roads were closed and travellers were stranded in the lower North Island as a cold front continued to move its way up the country overnight. Late yesterday heavy snow dumps in the central North Island trapped vehicles on the Desert Road, with the army called into help.  National Radio reported that hundreds of travellers were stranded in Norsewood, Dannevirke and Waiouru overnight. The storm caused several power outages in the Wairarapa, Wanganui and Taranaki.  Powerco General Manager Network Management Peter Hale said a large number of consumers in the Wairarapa lost power yesterday after two Transpower-owned transmission lines on the Rimutaka Ranges were damaged.
No power till Monday for some
nzoom  06 July 2003
Some electricity consumers in the lower and central North Island will not get their power back on until Monday. PowerCo says there are so many outages over such a widespread area that supply to some areas in Wairarapa, Wanganui and Taranaki can't be restored on Sunday.
Police calls snuffed by snow

NZ Herald  07 July 2003
Police emergency communications were disrupted for half the North Island yesterday as heavy snow cut power to transmission equipment. As snow in the central North Island brought down power lines and  closed roads, Auckland police took over emergency communications south of Taupo after a power failure. Snow in the Rimutaka Hills cut power to a police transmission aerial which handles Wellington and the central North Island.
Southerly brings snow and ice
NZ Herald  07 July 2003
From freezing dips in Auckland to strandings on the Desert Rd - and snow in Napier - the weekend weather gripped the country. At the height of the storm, 10,000 homes in the central North Island were without power.
Icy weekend leaves its mark
nzoom  Monday  07 July 2003
The aftermath of the weekend's icy blast continues to cause disruption in parts of the country with some roads still marginal and homes without power. Meanwhile the Metservice says another cold front is due to hit the South Island on Tuesday and move up the country - but it won't be as severe as the storm over the weekend.
COMMENT:  More on the way. (08.07.2003)
Temperatures plummet in North
NZCity News  Monday 14 July 2003
The cold snap that has caused frozen water pipes to burst in parts of the South Island has moved up the country. The MetService says parts of the North Island have seen temperatures plummet.
Cold snap forecast for tomorrow
NZ Herald  Friday 18 July 2003
A cold southerly will sweep over the country tonight and tomorrow bringing chilly temperatures and snow to many regions. The MetService said a very cold southerly change would spread over Fiordland, Southland and Otago tonight. Canterbury and Marlborough would be hit tomorrow morning and southern, central and eastern North Island areas in the afternoon. Snow was predicted to fall as low as 200m in Southland and to about 800m in the central North Island.
COMMENT:  MetService failed to predict this one. (20.08.2003) They were warned (above).
Deep south under blanket of snow
NZ Herald Thursday 21 August, 2003
Snow throughout Southland and Otago yesterday contributed to a collision between a 4WD vehicle and a frozen-goods truck near Cardrona, which injured three people... About 15cm of snow fell overnight in the Crown Range. The MetService issued a heavy snow warning for the Otago region. Up to 15cm was expected to accumulate in some places above 300m and lighter falls down to 200m were also expected.
Snow fell from West Otago to Alexandra and in the Maniototo, with up to 10cm settling in places... Thick snow in many parts of western Southland caught some farmers by surprise, especially those on the north side of the Takitimu Mountains.
More snow on way for South Island
NZ Herald  Friday  22 August, 2003
The wintry blast of snow and sleet across the South Island is expected to continue over the weekend, but skifields are unlikely to benefit much, the MetService says. Predictions are for another significant dumping of snow for parts of the South Island, with tomorrow expected to be the worst with snow along the east coast.
COMMENT:  Another...
Heavy snow closes Desert Rd
NZ Herald Friday  05 September, 2003
Heavy snow has closed the Desert Rd section of State Highway 1 through the central North Island and police said it was likely to remain closed all day. A police spokeswoman said today heavy snow had closed State Highway 1 north of Waiouru. Motorists travelling north needed to take a detour on State Highway 49 via National Park and exercise extreme care, she said. Police also advised motorists to take care driving on State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupo where snow was also falling heavily.
Cold change on horizon
THE PRESS Monday, 08 September 2003
A bleak week lies in store for Canterbury and Marlborough... MetService yesterday warned farmers of a "prolonged cold, wet spell from Monday to Thursday", with snow likely to be as low as 500m above sea level. Blue Skies Weather and Climate Services director Tony Trewinnard said the weather would be unusually unpleasant for this time of the year... it would be unusually prolonged. A south-east airflow coming onto the South Island, bringing cold, damp air off the sea, was causing the weather change.
Relief as late ski season springs to life
THE PRESS 13 September 2003
...A fortnight of cold fronts has brought steady snowfalls to the region, with Mount Hutt and Porter Heights reporting excellent bases and expressing relief the slow-starting season has finally sprung into life. [...]
But the late snowfalls have been bad news for farmers, with the cold killing newborn lambs in North Canterbury, and farm paddocks and roads being flooded by high stream and river levels. A heavy dump of snow around Porters Pass on Wednesday night closed State Highway 73 for heavy towing vehicles yesterday, police said... winter driving conditions prevailed across much of the South Island.
COMMENT:  ...and another
Weather conditions atrocious
nzoom September 28, 2003
Severe weather wreaked havoc across most of New Zealand on Sunday. Worst hit were Taranaki and north Canterbury, where heavy rain and unexpected snow created all manner of complications. Unseasonal snow was also an unpleasant surprise for those in the south, where the pressure was on some farmers to keep newborn lambs alive. Torrential rain in Taranaki also caused massive slips across roads south of Mount Taranaki.
Major low drops rain
NZCity News 28 September 2003
The central North Island and upper South Island are in for a thorough drenching today. MetService says a major low in the Tasman Sea is deepening as it crosses the country. Taranaki can expect up to 70 millimetres of rain on low levels and up to 150 mils on the mountain. Up to 100 millimetres is forecast for the central North Island hill country from Te Awamutu to Wanganui. Heavy rain is also forecast for the ranges in the Bay of Plenty, Kaikoura and coastal north Canterbury. Snow is expected down to about 500 metres in the north and east of the South Island tonight.
Winter returns with torrential rain, snow
NZ Herald  Monday September 29, 2003
Heavy rain and poor visibility forced traffic to a standstill in parts of the North Island yesterday while Cantabrians shivered with the return of icy winter temperatures. The thunderstorms that worked their way across the country brought more than 100mm of rain to parts of Taranaki. In Auckland, 22mm of rain fell between 1pm and 3pm alone. MetService forecaster Bob Lake said winter had returned for people in Canterbury, where temperatures dropped to around freezing and snow fell as low as the Canterbury plains. The Lewis, Porters and Burkes passes were closed because of snowfalls up to 50cm. The Arthurs Pass road was also closed and 35cm recorded. Farmers at 400m above sea level reported snowfalls of about 30cm. "It's quite a lot for this time of year. It's perhaps a one-in-20-year type of event for September," Mr Lake said...
Cleanup after wild weather
nzoom  September 29, 2003
A spring storm has brought weather extremes to opposite ends of New Zealand - the North Island has been lashed by thunderstorms and strong winds while in the South Island heavy snow has done the most damage. Half a metre of snow has begun melting, but there is no respite for farmers with another southerly expected to roll through the area on Wednesday. MetService says the galeforce winds and rain that slammed the North Island are subsiding, but people should prepare for a second blast of cold weather by Friday.
Weather forecasters tip further doses of misery
NZ Herald  Tuesday  September 30, 2003
...New Zealand faces double lashings of more atrocious weather. Yesterday, boats were tossed off their moorings in Northland and the Waikato, furious cross-winds forced a Qantas jet to abort landings at Auckland Airport and bad weather was blamed in part for a weekend road death toll of eight people. As gusts of more than 100km/h finally died down late in the day, MetService forecaster Erick Brenstrum warned of more rain for Auckland and other northern areas today from a separate cold front due to spread over the country. But that is likely to be eclipsed by what he described as another "fairly major event" due to strike on Friday... Mr Brenstrum said a deep depression expected to cross the bottom of the country then would spread heavy rain and possibly more gale-force winds up the east coasts of both main islands...
Snow claims hundreds of lambs, more losses feared
THE PRESS  30 September 2003
Hundreds of newborn lambs have died in the unseasonable snowstorm on inland South Island farms, with fears of more losses in chilly temperatures forecast for today. The wintry blast that has pounded the country with heavy snow and high winds over the past two days has closed roads, trapped holiday-makers, cut power, and caused problems for farmers, particularly those on the hill country, where lambing is in full swing.
COMMENT:  Consistent success requires constant practice.  (30.09.2003)
'Worst storm' for electricity retailers
NZ Herald October 01, 2003
The storm that hit the North Island over the weekend was the worst that electricity retailers have seen this year. Over the past few days several hundred households throughout the region have gone without power for more than a day...  A spokeswoman for the Auckland lines company Vector said several hundred customers in the North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney were most affected, with fewer than 100 cases in other parts of Auckland. In Muriwai, more than 1000 customers lost power on Sunday but that was restored on Monday morning. The strongest winds hit Auckland and some parts of the Hawkes Bay, reaching speeds up to 100km/h.
* Hurricane-force winds gusting at more than 130km/h ripped through Westport yesterday morning, leaving a trail of damage and cutting power.
September an extreme month for weather
NZ Herald October 02, 2003
Niwa senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said September was a month of extremes, as westerlies and lows swept across New Zealand from the South Tasman Sea, bringing rain, snow and gales. Rainfall records were broken as the country was saturated, with double the usual rainfall in eastern regions from Gisborne to North Otago. Gales buffeted Manawatu, Wellington, Kapiti, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. On September 18, gusts peaked at 176km/h at South West Cape, 169km/h at Castlepoint and 141km/h at Tiwai Point. The North Island and top of the South Island were warmer than usual but the southwest of the South Island was colder...
COMMENT: One more...
Bracing for another storm
nzoom  October 03, 2003
The second violent spring storm in a week has prompted warnings across New Zealand to prepare for a furious onslaught of wind and rain. The storm is expected to carry a wintery punch and last for most of the weekend... Around 200 Paekakariki residents were evacuated from their homes on Friday night. Wellington was cut off from the rest of the North Island after severe flooding closed all roads out of the capital... Windy alpine passes were the main concern on Friday and some South Island farmers are likely to still be finishing the week the way they began - deep in spring snow. As the low moves away, temperatures are expected to plummet on Friday night, bringing snow to around 400 metres in Southland, Otago and Canterbury. It will be rough going for newborn lambs, but not as nasty as last weekend's polar blast. Wellington got wind gusts of up to 130 kilometres per hour on Friday... emergency services reported an aeroplane crash seven kilometres north of Paraparaumu in the Wellington region, possibly at sea.
Storms threaten high-country lambing
THE PRESS  04 October 2003
More lambing losses are feared as Canterbury farmers wake up today to yet another late-season blast of freezing rain and snow. Farmers are bracing themselves for a bitterly cold southerly with snow flurries forecast down to 150m in hill country areas tomorrow that could be deadly to newborn lambs. Temperatures are predicted to drop lower than last weekend's wintry shock which wiped out hundreds of new lambs... in North Canterbury barely a week ago while more than 200mm of rain has fallen over the past three weeks. Mr McRae said it was unusual for so much snow to fall at this time of the year... The weather outlook is fine for this week but could turn for the worse next weekend. Frosts tomorrow and Monday night have growers worried as grapes and fruit crops start to bud. 
Up to three dead in wake of North Island storm 
NZ Herald Sunday October 05, 2003 
The body of a Whitianga teenager was found this morning in a swollen Coromandel Peninsula stream after she and two companions were washed away from their utility vehicle earlier today. The woman, whose name had not been released, is one of three casualties of a storm that lashed the North Island yesterday. Police and volunteers were today still searching for two men who went missing when their freight plane, en route from Christchurch to Palmerston North, crashed into the sea last night... A state of civil emergency was declared last night after flooding in Paekakariki, 42km north of Wellington... A flash flood swept tonnes of debris and mud through a motel in the town, virtually destroying it. MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said... the South Island was suffering unseasonably cold weather with snow falling in many areas.
Lamb losses in the thousands
nzoom  Oct 05, 2003
Hundreds of dead lambs arrived at a Southland slink skin plant on Sunday with many thousands more are expected on Monday. The losses for high country farmers will be drastically high as it is right in the middle of their lambing. South Otago and the Catlins suffered most... in the south, it is not only killing stock, it is also stalling desperately needed grass growth. A fortnight of cold weather has all but stopped the grass from growing so more feed is needed. The snow coated much of Otago peninsula and dusted Dunedin's upper hill suburbs which was enough to cause chaos on the city's northern motorway... the heaviest late season snow in a decade.
Farmers fear big lamb toll in snow dump 
STUFF  06 October 2003 
Anxious high country farmers in Southland and Otago will have to wait until snow thaws before they know how many lambs they have lost to the weekend's dumping. However, it is likely the death tally will run into tens of thousands. Most lambs born since Friday would have struggled to survive the bitter cold unless they found well-sheltered spots.  Mild winter and early spring weather made farmers optimistic of high lambing percentages for the south but those hopes were dashed with the storm's arrival.  Sheep farmers in the area were about halfway through lambing but even with advance warning of the snow storm there was little they could do to protect stock.
Storm revives highway call
STUFF  06 October 2003
The devastating storm that isolated the Wellington region at the weekend has freshened calls for an alternative highway out of the capital. State Highway 1 and the main trunk rail line north of Wellington were cut  when a massive deluge brought a river of rock and debris into Paekakariki. All other routes out of the city were closed and two Interisland ferry sailings were cancelled. Greater Wellington regional council transport committee chairman Chris Turver...said it was time the Government faced up to how easily transport links could be severed.
Flood victims face the future
STUFF  06 October 2003
The brutal spring storm wreaked havoc around the lower North Island yesterday, causing chaos for thousands of families returning home at the end of the school holidays. Rain fell by the bucketload across the country and MetService forecaster John Crouch said areas most affected by the "extreme" rain had been Wellington, Kapiti Coast, the central high country from eastern Bay of Plenty to Taranaki and in the ranges of the upper South Island. He said the 300-350mm of rain that fell on the Tararua Ranges in one day was more than twice the normal amount expected during a downpour at this time of year.
Flooded homes pose health risk
nzoom  Oct 06, 2003
The Kapiti Coast District Council estimates at least five Paekakariki families won't be allowed back into their homes for some weeks after the weekend rain swept tonnes of mud through the properties... Snow swept through coastal areas and inland as far as northern Southland and parts of Central Otago, capping three weeks of unrelenting cold, wet weather in the south. The snow was a major headache for dairy farmers as well. Stock losses are also continuing to mount on waterlogged North Island farms after further widespread heavy rain over the weekend.
Helicopters join fight to save vines from frost
NZ Herald  Tuesday October 07, 2003
Frost-fighting helicopters were expected to be out in force in Marlborough before dawn again this morning as viticulturists try to save their vines. Temperatures were forecast to drop to an air minimum of 1C with a minus 2C frost in inland areas of the grape-growing province. The frosts are the sting in the tail of the wintry blast that dumped snow in the southern parts of the South Island and rain in the north. Marlborough grape growers, wary after November frosts last year wiped out 30 per cent of their grape harvest, were quick to respond.
Big wet bogs down farmers
NZ Herald  Monday October 13, 2003
Farmers are facing heavily reduced milk payouts as the constant wet weather hits the condition of their cows. Milk production is down, grass growth has slowed dramatically, cows are losing condition and some are not going on heat to receive artificial insemination for breeding... Parts of Northland are facing some of the worst conditions the area has ever had, while in the low-lying Hauraki Plains farmers have been forced to send stock off farms. A second weekend of torrential rain has left many regions saturated. Waikato Federated Farmers provincial president John Fisher said his region's farmers were also starting to  worry about the constant wet.
Farmers getting suicidal
nzoom  Oct 13, 2003
Months of wet weather in the Far North is having such a severe impact that Northland Federated Farmers says it is having to provide counselling and support to farmers who are suicidal and finding the stress too much to cope with. The region has had more than its normal annual rainfall already this year. This should be the busiest time of year for milking but the cows are not producing as much. A lower milk powder payout this year will also be a blow to farmers. Crops are also hurting - with valuable seedlings in Northland just rotting away.
COMMENT: It's those cold snaps again!  (14.10.2003) MetService's long range forecast? (21.10.03)
Another chilly blast due
nzoom  Oct 13, 2003
MetService says the heavy rain that hit some North Island areas over the weekend should have passed by Tuesday, but a cold snap is on its way for most of New Zealand. Following the weekend's heavy rain in the Bay of Plenty, Northland Taupo and Auckland, cold southerly winds and more rain is expected in the eastern regions. The torrential downpours closed roads, caused slips and flooded buildings. Kaitaia, (one of the worst hit areas), Whangarei, Tauranga and Auckland have already had more rain in the past two weeks than they usually get in the whole month of October.
Meanwhile, MetService spokesman, John Crouch, says snow is expected to fall down to 500 metres in Canterbury and Marlborough and down to 900 metres in the North Island ranges. He says farmers should take precautions to avoid lamb deaths.
Frost takes growers by surprise
nzoom  Nov 19, 2003
MetService defended itself against criticism from the Marlborough wine industry that it failed to forecast a frost which damaged some grape vines on Tuesday morning. Marlborough grape growers' president, Stuart Smith, says instead of a frost MetService was predicting temperatures of three or four degrees. Although frost damage was minor, he says growers deserve a more accurate weather forecast. MetService forecaster Janet Symes says it is impossible to predict specific micro-climate temperatures. She says the service warned of possible frosts in the lead-up to Marlborough's cold snap.

CHECK OUT: NIWA's media summary of recent winter hazards. (05.12.03)


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