New Zealand often gets hit by storms as it lies in the ‘Roaring Forties’. This is where mild air temperatures from the north meet cooler air from the south. Learn about storms in New Zealand.
Storms can cause strong winds, rain, thunder, lightning, hail, heavy snow and rough seas. MetService issues strong wind warning when they expect winds more than 87 kilometres per hour over land.
Tropical cyclones are large revolving storms that develop in the tropics. They are also called hurricanes or typhoons. They have a wind-speed of more than 120kph.
Tropical cyclones usually weaken when they meet the cooler sea temperatures around New Zealand, But sometimes they can cause major damage. In 1988, Cyclone Bola caused more than $200 million in damage, even though it was no longer a tropical cyclone by the time it reached our shores.
Storms can destroy roads, railways, bridges and buildings. They can ruin crops and kill livestock. At sea, ships are at risk (the ferry Wahine sank during Cyclone Giselle in 1968, with the loss of 51 lives). Dangers from storms include:
Coastal areas can suffer from storm surges. Storm surges are extra-high waves caused by low pressure in the air above the sea that causes the sea-level to rise.
Stay indoors and listen to the radio.
Avoid dangling and broken power lines.
Make a plan with your family to get through an emergency. Think about the things you need every day and work out what you would do if you didn't have them.
Make your plan — print it out, stick it on the fridge and make sure everyone knows the plan.
Read a New Zealand perspective on severe weather on Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
Natural hazards can be frightening. They can strike at any time and often without warning. Explore the types of emergencies below and learn better ways to prepare.