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Sunday, 7 January 2018

A slight case of Deja Vu

Bloody hell, I've jinxed the weather!  In the last post reviewing 2017,  I showed a photo of an angry sunrise just before a storm last January and said that we "sometimes" get summer storms.  Well, the Coromandel Peninsula and other parts of the country have just copped a real beating from a low pressure storm that has come out of the tropics.

We desperately needed the rain after weeks of hot, dry conditions. We had cracks in the ground on our property that you could put your hand in.  The forecasters were warning that over 100 mm of rain could fall in a 24 hour period, with nor' westerlies above 120 km/hr.  That didn't bother us all that much as our house is protected by a ridge from that wind direction.   Sure enough, we survived just fine and the only remedial work required was picking up small branches from around the property and a small amount of unripe fruit blown off various fruit trees.

However, as the storm moved south, the wind swung towards the west and that's when mayhem struck due to a number of factors coinciding - talk about bad luck!  This is where we live and what happened.

The Coromandel Peninsula, NZ

The Coromandel Peninsula is a major tourist destination, particularly in summer on account of its beautiful beaches, great fishing and its forest parks.  State Highway 25, also known as the Coro Loop; is a mecca for motorcyclists because of its challenging, technical nature.  There are only two ways off the Peninsula and for us, the most direct route is due south to Thames which normally takes a little under an hour.

Anyway, back to the story.  As the strong wind shifted to the west, it built up a storm surge which hit the eastern coast of the Firth of Thames.  Normally, that wouldn't be a major issue but it happened to coincide with high tide and a king tide at that.  The torrential rain added to the problem with already swollen rivers and streams.  This meant that big waves came over the road, carrying large rocks from the shallows.  The combined action has caused extensive flooding in some small communities and smashed the road to pieces in quite a few places.  At best, the seal has been torn off the compacted base structure and in the worst spots, the base structure has been wiped out too.  Here are a few photos from the local news services and public sources.

The mail must get through!

Boat floating in someone's back yard down the coast

Much of the road is now on the beach

Debris at Te Mata

Tar seal ripped up north of Thames

More seal damage

My heart goes out to the people down the coast who have suffered significant damage to their property.  In terms of economic damage, it's happened in the peak tourist season.  With the road closed for the foreseeable future whilst repairs are being made, businesses on the western side of the Peninsula will be badly affected.  In terms of direct impact on us, it will increase our travel time to get off the Peninsula by a further 1.5 - 2 hours by having to drive round the eastern side of the Peninsula so I guess we'll be minimising travel for a while.  We really haven't got much to complain about though compared with people further down the coast.

As mentioned earlier, the severe damage came about through a number of factors coming into play at the same time.  However, these extreme weather events seem to be increasing world-wide.  Whether it's a temporary phenomenon or a longer term trend remains to be seen but there sure is a cost to them, both in financial and human terms.  Let's hope that the rest of 2018 is a whole lot better for the planet!

20 comments:

  1. Wow, what a storm! I'm glad to hear that you two came through with minimal problems. From the look of the road, maybe it's time to trade the sport bike for a dual-sport model...

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    1. Thanks Richard. Yep, a few of my mates have suggested that I start an adventure bike division of IAM!

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  2. Incredible damage but glad you have come out of it with minimal effect. Seems the climate is changing and here's hoping 2018 will bring more moderation.

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  3. Hi Karen,
    We were fortunate, all things considered. The road may be partially opened quite soon whilst repairs start but whether it's fit for a motorcycle, we'll have to see!

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  4. Chiller tek has left a new comment on your post "A slight case of Deja Vu":

    Crikey mate, thats a big blow for the community, no tourists means no dollars and local business will struggle greatly. Such a shame to see so much damage to such a pretty area.
    Maybe they need to build a small sea wall along the edge of the coast next to the road, small enough so you can see over whilst driving along but big enough to stop the waves washing away the tar seal.

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    1. Sure is Steve. There are some stretches of sea wall which was built after Cyclone Bola in 1988. They apparently stood up well but the height of the seas this time just monstered the rock barriers. Here's hoping for rapid remedial work!

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  5. Two words Geoff: Adventure bike!


    Seriously, glad you guys came through ok (been following along on the news/social media). Looks like you'll be able to spend a bit more time puttering around home.

    Man the roads around NZ have taken some major hammering in the last 2 years or so...

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  6. Haha - you're the millionth person to suggest that :-) . Legs are too short!

    Yep, the weather gods have really taken a dislike to us eh? All good down your way? Saw you had some heavy rain.

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    1. A bit of rain. Some flooded roads etc. All good at my pad :)

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  7. Oh, this looks bad, Geoff. The detour sounds like a bit of an inconvenience. I remember that my ex-boss who lived on the other side of Coromandel commuted by helicopter, maybe that would be an option for you, too... ;-)

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    1. Hi Sonja! Now that's a good idea! Funnily enough, there has been a bit of helicopter traffic overhead for the last couple of days so maybe that's why!

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  8. I am glad you and Jennie came out of the storm just fine. The road on the other hand doesn't look well at all. I actually saw pictures online when it happened and was thinking of you two.

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  9. Thanks for thinking of us Brandy, didn't realise that it had made international news! It's hot and dry again now which is just what's needed to make good progress on repairs.

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  10. Blimey Geoff. No more Coro loop riding for a while then. You might need to leave a little earlier for next month's IAM Conference too...

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    1. Hi Lee,
      It's in a bit of a state all right! As you might expect, it's playing hell with my IAM schedule but Lloyd and Rob are going well beyond the call of duty in covering for me at present. Magnificent guys!

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  11. I hope that the repairs are progressing well. However, that section of road is so close to the beach that it's bound to happen again. As ypu know, we have similar events and big land slips along the Great Ocean Road and the economic impacts are quite significant.

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  12. Hi Jules,
    Yes, they are but will take several weeks to completely fix (until next time as you say!). In the meantime, there are temporary traffic lights and stop-go men at numerous places down the coast. At present, the transit time has darned near doubled as a result. We'll try and avoid going off the Peninsula for a while but I have a social ride organised this weekend down country. I'll go the long way round and stay with our son on Friday evening rather than risk getting held up on the day of the ride.

    Yep, have seen reports about the GOR. It's probably going to get worse for all of us.

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  13. Well Geoff - all in a bit of life's excitement. Glad you guys survived OK, although, from memory, most of Coromandel township is tucked into a little bowl - moderately sheltered. Storms with high sea surges are an increasing happening around the world, but,we're OK, being 1,000ft asl!
    Our local phenomena seems to be dying tropical storms floating down the coast of WA - one came through on Monday and dropped 100mm on our place in 12 hrs - that saves watering the gardens for a week or two.
    An occasional ride down the East Coast shouldn't be to big a hardship though - apart from the time factor....anyway, you'd need a trials bike more than an adventure bike with those chopped up roads down to Thames....

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    1. Hey Jon!
      Just to add to life's excitement, we're copping another burst on Thurs and Fri!! However, it shouldn't be anywhere as bad as the last one. So you're catching extreme rain too - that's a lot of rain in that time. Are you on tank or town supply? We're predominantly on rainwater tanks although we can connect to town supply if we need to.

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