Story: Floods

Rainfall across the Southern Alps (1st of 2)

Rainfall across the Southern Alps

This cross-section of the Southern Alps shows the enormous variation in annual rainfall within a few tens of kilometres. Highest rainfall – over 13 metres (or 7 fathoms) – occurs in a narrow band west of the main divide. The prevailing winds force moist air from the Tasman Sea over the mountains. As the air rises and cools, it drops much of the moisture as rainfall.

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Graphic by Trevor Chinn

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Source: Trevor Chinn, ‘How wet is the wettest of the wet West Coast?’ New Zealand Alpine Journal 32 (1979): 86

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How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Floods - New Zealand’s number one hazard', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 31 May 2023)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 1 Aug 2017