Moon man missed storms


Ken Ring gets a lot of publicity for his weather forecasts, most of it used to be positive.

But he went a step too far in declaring he could forecast earthquakes last year and now the media is quite rightly taking a more rigorous approach to his predictions:

Self-proclaimed weather guru Ken Ring is wildly astray in his January predictions for the South Island hydro lakes region, in his 2013 weather almanac.

His summary for January, based on lunar patterns, says “the driest regions for the South Island for January may be the hydro lakes”.

But Environment Canterbury flood controller Tony Henderson said the 500mm of rain in the Waitaki and Rangitata river catchments over four days was “probably the most we’ve had over the summer in several decades”.  . .

When I drove down the Waitaki Valley on Monday, the spillways of Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki dams were spilling spectacular amounts of water which only happens when there’s been a lot of rain filling the lakes further up the catchment.

Strong nor west winds at home yesterday almost always mean rain further west, at or above the hydro lakes.

We had the longest, loudest thunder claps I’ve ever heard last night and about 9 mls of rain.

Mount Cook had 160mm of rain yesterday, following 440mm over a couple of days last week – the first time since 1994 two storms had arrived so close together.

You can never tell whether predictions which aren’t based on proven scientific methods are right or just lucky. But you can say when they’re wrong.

The Moon Man got this month’s forecast for the hydro lakes wrong and it’s good to see that the media aren’t letting him get away with it.

Water’s running out


Meridian Energy is spilling water from the Waitaki dams – Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki – becasue the hydro lakes are too full.

The water pouring over the Waitaki Dam reminded me that Federated Farmers keeps reminding us our problem isn’t that New Zealand is running out of water but that the water is running out of New Zealand.

When we’ve got this much water rushing out to sea, what’s the problem with harvesting some for irrigation, power generation and recreation?

Waitaki Dam’s 75th birthday


The Waitaki Dam was the first of eight to be built on the Waitaki River and the last to be to be built by the pick and shovel method .

Construction started in 1928. The decision to use labour rather than machines was a deliberate one to provide work during the Depression but it wasn’t easy work:

. . . working conditions were hard with cold winters, flooding, and earthquakes to work through. The work force often toiled in knee high water, and lived in temporary housing near the site. 

It was during these construction years that Kurow’s Presbyterian Minister, later to become Sir Arnold Nordmeyer, and local doctor Dr Harold McMillan, saw the working and housing conditions and the many who camped near the site hoping for work.  As a result these two men began the initial thinking around what was to become one of the world’s first social welfare assistance programmes – the Social Welfare Act (passed by Parliament in 1938).

The dam was commissioned in 1934 and Meridian Energy, which now owns it, hosted public celebrations for its 75th anniversary yesterday.

David Bruce  covered the dam’s history and interviewed some of the people who worked on it for the ODT.

Waitaki’s Deputy Mayor, Gary Kircher, blogs on yesterday’s celebrations.

This photo of the dam was taken earlier this year when Meridian was spilling water becasue the lakes were too full.

waitaki 09

Opening the spillway


The lake levels are too high in the Waitaki hydro lakes so Meridian Energy has opened the spillway in Benmore dam:





More water from the Benmore dam fills Lake Aviemore so the spillway in the Aviemore dam is also open and that in turn puts more water into Lake Waitaki so the  the Waitaki dam is now overflowing:


The Waitaki River is now flowing at 950 cubic metres a second. We might want to remember that next time there’s a power crisis.

However, the high flow is welcome because the flood will clean up a lot of the didymo (also known as rock snot) which is thought to have been brought into New Zealand is fishing waders and now infects many of our rivers.

The high flow will also move a bank which has developed at the river mouth.

Kurow to celebrate birth of social security


Kurow is preparing to celebrate the birth of social security which began in the town in the 1930s.

The 1938 Social Security Act developed from the medical benefits scheme for depression workers on the Waitaki hydro dam project at Kurow a few years earlier.

The act was developed by the local minister, Reverend Arnold Nordmeyer, headmaster Andrew Davidson and Dr David McMillan assited by a committee of locals. The success of the scheme convinced Nordmeyer and McMillan to stand with the new Labour leader, Michael Joseph Savage and became part of New Zealand’s first Labour Government.

Celebrations On Augsut 12 will include the launch of Nordy – Arnold Nordmeyer – A political Biography, by Mary Logan; and the official opening of the first stage of the National Museum of Social Security; the 1938 themed visitor information centre at the town’s museum; the Social Security Heritage Trail and the visitor information booklet Birth of Social Security – How It All Began.

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