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Published: 2004-03-04 00:00:00

If you thought February was a bit wet, it was one for the record books.

Environment Waikato’s rainfall data shows the past month has broken all records in the amount of rain. Many areas had more than four times their usual February rainfall and even the normally wet Pinnacles in the Coromandel – which was relatively unscathed by flooding this summer – received 560 mm almost double its usual heavy rainfall of 290 mm.

Worst off was Ruatahuna, which received 490 mm, well above its usual 110 mm in February. Kuratau near Taupo received 350 mm, more than four times more than its usual 80 mm.

Other high rates were recorded at Environment Waikato’s electronic recording sites at Waitangaruru (600 mm compared with 142 mm), Turangi (384 mm compared with its usual 104 mm) and Hamilton recorded 249 mm compared with its usual 72 mm.

On the Waipa and Awakino Rivers, flows were extreme and in some cases higher than recorded in 1998 and 1958. No records were kept in 1907 on these rivers.

The Awakino peaked at 300 cubic metres per second (cumecs), just over the 290 recorded in 1998 but the level was slightly below at 5.72 metres. At Otewa the Waipa peaked at 400 cumecs compared with 312 in 1998, and the level was higher at 5.58 metres compared with 5.15 metres in 1998.

At Otorohanga it also reached 620 cumecs and 34 metres, well over the 445 cumecs and 33.38 metres in 1998.

Flows in the Taupo area broke the record books too. The Tongariro River at Turangi recorded a flow of 1400 cumecs, compared with 840 in the flood of 1998 and 1500 in the major flood of 1958.

The effect of hydro dams on the Waikato River meant that flows further down the river were a bit more restrained. At Hamilton the flow reached 700 cumecs compared with 785 in 1998 and 905 in 1958. The flow in the major flood of 1907 was a whopping 1350 cumecs. That year the river also rose to 20.21 metres compared with 16.22 metres this month.

At Ngaruawahia the flow peaked at 1265 cumecs compared with 1490 in 1998 and 1870 on 1907. At Rangiriri the flow at its peak was 1250 cumecs compared with 1490 in 1998. At Mercer the river reached a height of five metres compared with a much larger 6.76 metres in 1907.

Meanwhile, The level of Lake Taupo is still high today and inflows are falling slowly due to the wet catchment. Environment Waikato expects the Lake to stay at above the maximum control level for at least another week, assuming there is no more significant rain.

Flows through the lower Waikato River will also remain high for the next few days to clear water from the deluge. Around Mercer sandbagging is being done to deal with seepage from local stopbanks and low lying areas. In the Waipa area some areas are still under water and hay is being send to some lower Waipa River farmers who are still submerged.

Fine weather is predicted for the next few days.