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Learning Centre » Notable Weather Events Archive » 2001/2002 Summer

Southerly storm along east coast and Cook Strait
5-7 February 2002

Wind was the main feature of this event with southerly gales causing havoc along the east coast of the country and about Cook Strait.

The southerlies first made their effect felt in the South Island on the 5th, with rain and unusually cold conditions; daytime highs were only 10-12ºC in the south and east.

On the 6th, southerly gales sunk 5 boats at the Lyttelton Marina (and damaged others), forced the cancellation of all Cook Strait ferries and caused the "Jody F Millennium" log carrier to be driven onto a sandbar off Waikanae Beach in Gisborne.

High sea waves closed State Highway 1 on the Kaikoura Coast and flooded roads and properties along Wellington's south coast. Swell waves in Cook Strait were around 8 metres. A truck was blown over by the wind on the Hundalee Hills, 32km south of Kaikoura.

Mt Hutt in Canterbury recorded 10cm fresh snow overnight 5-6 February, while maximums only reached 12ºC in parts of the southeast South Island on the 6th, well below average.

Also on the 6th, three water-spouts were sighted off the Otaki coast in the morning, while near Levin, a downpour produced 5mm rain in 10 minutes, between 7am and 8am.

On the 7th conditions slowly eased; Cook Strait ferries resumed in the morning, but Lynx fast-ferry sailings were cancelled again due to heavy swell.

Mean sea level pressure analyses for midday 4 to midnight 7 February 2002 NZDT, in 12 hour steps respectively are shown below.

weather map 1

weather map 2

weather map 3

weather map 4

weather map 5

weather map 6

weather map 7

weather map 8

The maps show a deep low developing on a trough as it passed to the east of the South Island. The low deepened from 998hPa to 984hPa in 24 hours at 43ºS, rated at 0.75 of a "bomb". The following pictures show the "Suilven" hitting heavy swell as it exited Wellington Heads and entered Cook Strait, early afternoon 6 February 2002.

suilven 1

suilven 2

suilven 3

suilven 4

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