New Zealand Rattled by Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued
MetService, New Zealand’s meteorological agency, recently issued a severe thunderstorm warning following an impressive lightning event captured in Waikato. The person who recorded the event, Chloe Quinn, was at her workplace in Ōtorohanga when the weather turned. She described the conditions as extremely loud and unnerving, affecting the stability of her place of work.
Thunderstorm Watch Extended Across Regions
The severe thunderstorm watch extended beyond Waikato to include Waitomo, Taumarunui, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupō, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay. The forecast suggested scattered thunderstorms would affect the central North Island, with a high probability of heavy rain and hail in the evening. For certain regions, including parts of Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay, the thunderstorms were expected to be particularly severe, with localised downpours ranging from 25-40mm per hour.
Public Urged to Exercise Caution
MetService has urged the public to be cautious, especially when driving, as these conditions could lead to hazardous situations such as surface flooding and impaired visibility due to heavy rainfall. The thunderstorm activity is projected to subside later in the night.
Tornadoes Witnessed in Taupō
Alongside the thunderstorm, Taupō also experienced wild weather, as evidenced by the formation of a tornado captured on camera by a resident, Jen Rowland. She reported witnessing thunder, lightning, and two small tornadoes, describing the event as an amazing sight.
Anticipating Hazardous Conditions
As the severe weather warnings continue, the expectation of heavy rain and flash flooding poses a risk to residents, potentially leading to evacuation orders. The public is urged to monitor local weather developments and forecasts in case of changes or additional details. Floodings in urban areas, especially low-lying regions, power outages, and widespread travel disruption are imminent based on previous weather events in the country.
Connecting Extreme Weather to Climate Change
Recent extreme weather events in New Zealand, such as the devastating rain and flooding that swept through Auckland, the country’s largest city, have sparked discussions about their potential connection to climate change and global warming. The previously mentioned weather event claimed at least four lives as raging floodwaters flowed through streets and highways, causing schools and businesses to close and disrupting flights at Auckland International Airport.
Rising Cases of Leptospirosis
A concerning aftermath of the floods includes the rising cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has warned health providers about a potential leptospirosis outbreak, likely linked to the recent extreme weather events. The disease, as defined by the country’s Ministry of Health, manifests acute symptoms, including chills, fever, headache, diarrhea, nausea, myalgia, abdominal pain, coughing, meningitis, and eye inflammation.
Preparing for the Worst
As the weather conditions remain unpredictable, authorities are advising residents to prepare for the worst. Steps such as taking extreme caution while driving, preparing for power cuts, and being aware of potential landslides are recommended. In addition, residents are advised to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for new alerts or updates from the authorities.
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