Media release

ORC keeping watching brief on lakes and rivers as heavy rain continues

Wednesday 2 February 2022

River levels in the Wānaka and Wakatipu catchments are rising as heavy rain falls in the Otago headwaters. But current flow conditions and lake levels mean that the risk of widespread flooding is currently low.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is closely monitoring rainfall and lake and river levels as heavy rain continues to fall in the headwaters.

Metservice have an orange heavy rain warning in place for the Otago headwaters until 3am Thursday. The weather event is currently tracking as expected, with 220mm of rainfall in the Lake Wānaka catchment at Young River Dam up to 12 noon today.

ORC Flood Duty Officer Tim van Woerden said the event was expected to bring high intensity rainfall until early Thursday.

“The forecasts are for heavy rain to continue until early morning tomorrow, and then for widespread but lower-intensity rain over much of Otago until Friday.

“While our neighbours on the West Coast are bearing the brunt of this event, we are not anticipating any major flooding issues for Otago at this stage,” Mr van Woerden said.

“Rivers in the headwaters, like the Makarora, Matukituki, Dart and Rees will see high flows during today and tomorrow morning, then will begin to recede once the intense rainfall subsides. These areas may experience localised flooding at river margins, and there may be a risk of landsliding or debris flows triggered by the heavy rain.

“We urge people using these rivers, for fishing or on walks, to take extra care in the area at this time.

“We expect to see the levels of Lake Wānaka and Lake Wakatipu rising over the next two days, but they should remain well below alarm levels.”

ORC will continue to monitor the heavy rain situation throughout the event, and will provide further updates as necessary.

To view water monitoring and alert information for Otago, click here.