The Soggy Green Grass Of Home

Wet enough for ya? Recent headline in the Taranaki Daily News

Far too much water!

By Roger Childs

Dismal conditions on the wonderful coastal walkway

On a recent visit to the land of my wife’s birth, we drove through pouring rain before at last seeing the famous mountain.

Then, amazingly, we experienced three days of consecutive fine weather which nearly broke the record for the year. Coming home however, it was teeming down again.

To the naked eye the Taranaki pastures look deceptively lush, but in fact the very wet winter and spring has been bad news for farmers. The high water table means that more rain just sits on the surface and the grass won’t grow.

A farming friend of a relative says that he’s spending over $10,000 a week feeding out precious fodder to his stock.

Far wetter than usual

Fine days have been in the minority and grass growth has been limited

Taranaki is not alone. As of today Wellington has had 1269mm this year so far, compared with the average of 993.

Kapiti is probably similar, and local farmers report that as the water table is close to the surface, extra rain doesn’t soak into the soil.

In Taranaki, Regional Council weather stations have received above normal rainfall between January and August with five of them reaching between 97 and 98% of their yearly average rainfall with a third of the year to go.( Daily News, 30 September 2017)

For people on the land it’s obviously bad news, but, as always, wet weather means some winners in among the losers.

Good and bad

Flooding in downtown New Plymouth. (Credit stuff)

On the winning side, indoor facilities like gyms and bowling alleys have reported increased patronage.

The libraries and museums have had more customers and there has been a roaring trade for shops selling wet weather gear. Cafes are also doing well. (I can recommend The Batch near the Lee Breakwater, as the coffee is excellent and the wide choice of food is always fresh and tasty.)

However, the persistent damp conditions has not been good for people’s morale and schools have has problems with students having to spend more time inside.

They’re just more on edge and it just increases as the days multiply, says Waitara High School teacher, Matarahi Skipper. So the college has been laying on more indoor activities like films and games.

Recent flooding near Awakino in North Taranaki (Credit stuff)

Damage to  roads and parks

Continuing wet weather has held up many building projects and road maintenance. Pothole repairs just don’t work if they are carried out in wet weather. NZTA’s Ross Anson. Needless to  say, there has been plenty of surface flooding and road damage, as a result of torrential downpours.

And for Council workers wanting to cut the grass in parks, it’s often a waiting game. Once it gets warmer, the grass will grow quickly and will take longer to mow: classic Catch 22.

Another casualty has been sports fixtures. During the winter two weekends have seen a virtual total cancellation of football matches, compared with once in the previous five years.

And the forecast for today in Taranaki?  You guessed it: Cloud increasing with rain settling in late morning.