Heat about to hit again

Snow, rain was only tem­po­rary respite

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

A light smat­ter­ing of snow on Sun­day night and rain on Mon­day has brought tem­po­rary re­lief to dry Wanaka and Queen­stown.

The to­tal fire ban and ir­ri­ga­tion re­stric­tions re­main in place.

Another pat­tern of an­ti­cy­clonic weather is fore­cast to be­gin to­mor­row, re­plac­ing the south-west­erly airstream re­spon­si­ble for the wet start to the week.

The fore­cast wind will quickly negate any ben­e­fits from the rain and fire­fight­ers will be back in full fire-fight­ing mode.

Otago Ru­ral Fire Au­thor­ity prin­ci­pal ru­ral fire au­thor­ity Dr Stephanie Ro­tarangi is ad­vis­ing res­i­dents to be sen­si­ble and re­port smoke straight away.

‘‘We have just got to take one day at a time. I do be­lieve we are in for another tough six weeks.’’

Rain ef­fects hy­drol­o­gist Dave Ste­wart says the whole of Cen­tral Otago is in a drought but the con­di­tions are typ­i­cal for a re­gion known to be the dri­est in the coun­try.

The dif­fer­ence was that Fe­bru­ary’s dry­ing an­ti­cy­clones had ar­rived early in De­cem­ber, Ste­wart said.

Wanaka re­ceived a healthy dol­lop of rain but the near­est of­fi­cial rain gauge, at Wanaka Air­port, recorded just 1.6mm, show­ing how rapidly the vol­ume dropped as the weather moved north and east to­wards the cen­tre of the South Is­land, Ste­wart said.

De­spite Otago Re­gional Fire Au­thor­ity warn­ings not to mow lawns, use chain­saws and set off fire­works, many grass fires have flared through­out the re­gion, with sev­eral draw­ing on all the re­sources of vol­un­teer brigades.

An or­chard main­te­nance shed was com­pletely de­stroyed by a sus­pi­cious fire on Satur­day at Earn­scle­ugh, and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause is now un­der­way.

Last Fri­day, an ac­ci­den­tal fire at Hawea Flat burned a sleep out, car­a­van and two other out­house struc­tures, scorched grass and gar­dens and singed houses sev­eral hun­dred me­tres away.

The fire was caused by a weedeater and was brought un­der con­trol by at least 50 fire­fight­ers and the Hawea flat ‘‘bucket bri­gade’’.

A day be­fore, a grass fire caused by a car do­ing ‘‘rarkies’’ in a pad­dock threat­ened a house on Cam­phill Rd. It too was con­tained by fire­fight­ers and lo­cals.

On­go­ing grass fires have kept the Tar­ras bri­gade on its toes and the re­gion’s fire fight­ers have at­tended many other ru­ral and town grass blazes since Jan­uary 1.

Ro­tarangi said the pub­lic was show­ing ‘‘great com­mu­nity spirit’’ and should be applauded for help­ing.

She cau­tioned that while no prob­lems had emerged so far from pub­lic as­sis­tance, it was im­por­tant to follow fire­fight­ers’ in­struc­tions.

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