Story: Floods

Rainfall across the Southern Alps (1st of 2)

A depiction of the Southern Alps showing where rain mostly falls.

This cross-section of the Southern Alps shows the enormous variation in annual rainfall within a few tens of kilometres. The highest rainfall – up to 13 metres – occurs in a narrow band west of the main divide. The prevailing westerly winds force moist air from the Tasman Sea over the mountains. As the air rises and cools, much of the moisture condenses 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 25 April 2024)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 1 Feb 2024