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April 27, 2010 / Dave Gorham

New Zealand: Heavy Rain Causes Widespread Flooding in Southland Region

Heavy rain over the past few days has caused widespread flooding across the Southland region of New Zealand. According to the MetService, as of last night more than 27.5 inches (700mm) of rain has fallen in Fiordland the past three days and more rainfall is expected today. Roads and phone lines to Te Anau were cut, 120 trampers were evacuated from Fiordland tracks, farms were flooded and schools and roads were closed after three days of heavy rain. This has been the worst flooding this area has seen in 10 years.

Southland, New Zealand. Image: Wikipedia

Brief periods of heavy rainfall are expected again today across the Southland region as a strengthening and slow-moving surface low and its associated cold front move through. Additional rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches with isolated heavier amounts of up to 5 inches will be possible across many locations. Rainfall of this intensity could pose an increased risk of flooding across areas already hit hard by flooding. In addition, gusty northwest winds of 30-40 mph may develop near the coastal areas. Another round of moderate to heavy rainfall looks to be possible later in the week.

Car being washed off the road by flood waters. Image: Southland Times

The extent of the damage may not be known for weeks. Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno said the rainfall which has hit the region is amongst the worst she has ever seen.

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