Check the forecast and stay safe

May 27, 2015

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) and MetService are encouraging people to check the latest weather forecasts and to plan and prepare for unsettled weather before heading outdoors over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

MetService Meteorologist Emma Blades said temperatures will start to pick-up towards the weekend. This is due to a northwesterly flow gradually spreading up the country ahead of a weather front. The front is expected to approach the South Island on Friday then move up the North Island on Saturday and Sunday.

“This front will bring a period of rain or showers to the north and west of both islands, with scattered falls possible in the east. A second front is then expected to approach the South Island on Monday. With an unsettled outlook for Queen’s Birthday Weekend, make sure you check out the latest forecast and any watches and warnings on before heading out.

MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley said New Zealand’s weather can change quickly and drastically, particularly at this time of year.

“River crossings are one of the greatest hazards in the New Zealand outdoors and the consequences of bad decision making and poor judgement can be serious and immediate. Many New Zealand rivers rise quickly, and it doesn’t take a lot of rain to change from a relatively minor stream to a very unsafe flooded river. You should never cross a river in flood.

“Before you go, check your intended route for any river crossings and have a back-up plan for if you’re unable to cross. If in doubt, stay out and wait for conditions to improve.”

Mr Daisley also cautioned people to be aware that during the autumn and winter months, snow and ice can cover tracks that are usually clear during the warmer seasons.

“Walking and navigation can become more challenging so be aware of the weather and know your limits, an easy tramping track can become much more difficult if the weather changes.

“Over the long weekend when you’re out with friends and family members who may have different levels of ability and experience, it’s important to stay together and help each other out. A group can avoid poor decisions that a solo tramper might make and, if something goes wrong, they can pool their resources and ideas. However, if your group does become separated, stop at any river crossings or track junctions and wait to regroup.”

He said hypothermia was also a very real concern and encouraged people to look out for each other as the early signs could be easy to overlook.

“Some people hide early signs of hypothermia or simply don’t realise they’re at risk, so it’s important to keep an eye on others in your group. If someone’s shivering or feeling cold even when moving, this means they are developing early symptoms. Make sure you’ve got warm, dry clothes on hand, and take high-energy food to keep everyone going. Pack enough spare clothing layers, food and drink to last longer than the amount of time you expect to be gone.”

However, even with the best preparation, things can still go wrong, Mr Daisley said.

“You need to let someone you trust know where you are going and when to expect you back. That way, if something goes wrong, there is someone who can raise the alarm.”

He said the Outdoors Intentions form on made it easy to let a trusted contact know your plans and encouraged people to remember the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code – plan your trip, tell someone, be aware of the weather, know your limits and take sufficient supplies – before heading out this weekend.

For further information please contact:
John Law Media and Communications Meteorologist (04)4700 754

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