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Former Cyclone Cook goes out with a whimper as Kiwis begin to clean up
Ex-TC Cook lost strength during the middle of the night as it passed over central areas of the North Island of New Zealand so that, despite concerns widely voiced beforehand, it did not match the intensity of the notorious Wahini storm in 1968. Back then, ex-TC Giselle caused havoc in the whole country, killing 53 people when the Wahine ferry sank in Wellington Harbour.
Ex-TC Cook passed east of Wellington and down the east coast of the South Island today bringing some brisk winds and moderate rain, followed by bright sunshine as cloud cleared. The greatest damage was caused yesterday evening in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne districts where mopping up operations were in full swing today. Many roads in these areas remained closed.
Metservice says that the strongest wind gusts were recorded yesterday with 209km/h at 16.00NZST at White Island, in the middle of the Bay of Plenty and just east of the storm before it made landfall, and 154km/h at 21.00 at Cape Kidnappers at the southern end of Hawke's Bay. Most other top windspeeds were much less. The highest wave recorded was 12.5m at 18.00 yesterday at a buoy 13km off Pukehina Beach in the Bay of Plenty, also just east of the storm at landfall. The figure was questionned by the NZ Herald but defended as credible and supported by other evidence. The highest waves occurred 3 hours before high tide, reducing the effect of storm surge.
Rainfall was not as great as forecast, with storm falls generally in the 30 to 80mm range, but reaching 150 to 200mm in the rugged Raukumara Range east of the Bay of Plenty. The lowest measured pressure was 980hPa at Whakatane as the storm made landfall.
The reasons the storm was not as intense as expected, and the flow-on effects of an over-forecast event producing a "cry wolf effect" down the track, will be commented on in the next AWN News. Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand's resident cartoonist has produced this comment on the seemingly endless cycle of torrential rain, widespread flooding, road closures and mass evacuations that has plagued Kiwis for months.