With summer well and truly upon us in Tāmaki Makaurau, it is timely to remember that the season not only brings sunny, hot days but also the chance of stormy weather and sudden downpours that could cause disruption around the region.
Aucklanders don’t need reminding of the devastating floods and Cyclone Gabrielle in late January and early February of 2023, however there are some simple things they can do to make their home storm ready.
With a drier El Niño summer forecast for Aotearoa, the likelihood of a repeat of extreme and devastating weather events hitting Auckland this summer is low, but it pays to be ready for something similar, or even for a weaker storm event that could still pack a punch.
“Summer storms can be a surprise to many people due to the speed they happen and their unexpected nature. A little bit of planning in advance and maintenance around your home can help mitigate their effects,” Auckland Emergency Management General Manager Paul Amaral says.
“These summer storm events can be dangerous, even though they only last a short time. This is due to rain intensity and the potential for strong winds and tornadoes that sometimes accompany them.”
Mr Amaral encourages Aucklanders to put aside a bit of time to do little tasks around the home like clearing gutters, checking and unblocking drains and assessing what on your property needs to be tied down, stored or covered during a storm.
He says after the January floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, Aucklanders are now more aware that over the next few months it’s cyclone season in the Pacific.
“Earlier this year Auckland and many parts of the country saw the devastation that a cyclone can cause when it makes landfall in New Zealand.
“In most cases cyclones usually weaken before they reach New Zealand and have reduced in intensity – but they are still dangerous and have the potential to cause major damage. We keep in close contact with MetService to ensure that we’re ready for any unsettled weather.”
“Keeping track of the weather forecast is an important part of staying ‘storm prepped’ for summer. Whether you are in Auckland for the holiday period or are travelling to see friends and whānau outside of the region, it’s always a good idea to check what the weather is doing in that area. Also remember that, if the weather takes a turn for the worst, always follow the instructions of local authorities.”
Summer storm tips
Before a storm
- Be prepared – pay attention to weather forecasts, plan your travel around them and prepare yourself before the storm hits.
- Make a plan – make sure family, friends and flatmates know where to meet or what you’ll do in case of emergency.
- Make trees more wind-resistant by removing diseased or damaged branches.
- Green waste and tree removal services may be unavailable just before a storm arrives, so it is best to do this regularly rather than leave it until severe weather is forecast.
- Clear away leaves and other debris from gutter and drains to prevent blockage and flooding or water damage.
- Have torches and batteries, a full gas bottle for your BBQ and a battery-operated radio ready if the power goes out.
- If you need power to pump water or operate septic systems, you should have an alternate plan in place for if the power goes out.
- If where you live is isolated or you may get cut off, make sure you’ve got everything you need to keep going for a day or two.
When severe weather is forecast
- Bring inside or tie down anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds, such as outdoor furniture.
- If you have a trampoline, turn it upside down to minimise the surface area exposed to wind.
- Remove any debris or loose items from around your property. Branches and firewood may become missiles in strong winds.
- Clear debris and leaves from external drains and gutters to prevent overflow or water damage in heavy rain.
- Bring pets indoors. They can be unsettled by storms and it is more comforting and safer for them to be with you.
- Ensure livestock are not gathered under an isolated tree or anything that presents a risk from a lightning strike.
- Moor boats securely or move to a designated safe location.
- Use rope or chain to secure boat trailers. Use tie-downs to anchor a trailer to the ground or to a building.
During a severe storm
- Listen to advice provided by Auckland Emergency Management and emergency services and follow their instructions.
- Secure your whare/home and critical buildings by closing windows and shutters, if you have them. Pull curtains and blinds over windows. This can prevent injury from flying glass if the window breaks.
- Close all interior and external doors. Closed doors will help prevent damaging winds from entering rooms.
- Take extreme care with items that may conduct electricity if your whare/home is struck by lightning.
After a storm
- Check on neighbours, especially those that are elderly or vulnerable and if you can’t help, alert emergency services.
- If out and about, never drive through floodwaters and always drive to the conditions.
- Report fallen trees, blocked drains or debris on public property to Auckland Council online.
- Contact your insurance company or insurance broker as soon as possible. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.
For more tips on severe weather and storms, visit our website.