13 Jan 2009

Extreme weather bill put at $1 billion

6:59 pm on 13 January 2009

Last year's roller-coaster of extreme weather in New Zealand claimed 10 lives and caused damage of more than $1 billion.

Climate statistics compiled by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Science reveal a year of costly droughts and floods.

NIWA recorded 18 destructive floods last year, causing $68 million of damage.

Heavy rain in April in the central North Island caused eight deaths, one person was struck by lightning and a flash flood killed seven people in last year's canyoning tragedy.

In July, two people died trying cross a swollen stream near Kawakawa in Northland.

The drought at the beginning of the year in the west of the North Island cost about $1 billion.

Wellington was the wettest main centre in 2008, despite above normal sunshine hours. It was followed by Auckland and Hamilton.

Christchurch got the most sun, Dunedin was the driest and Auckland was the warmest.

Blenheim was the sunniest centre, followed closely by Nelson and Lake Tekapo.

The Southern Alps was the wettest area, while Waikato had its driest January in more than a century.