Date: 09 January 2013
The Department of Conservation advises that the Milford Track has again been closed for the day due to high winds and heavy rain. This follows an earlier closure on 1 January 2013.
The rain in the Clinton Valley has been extremely intense with the river level rising from near normal to above the flood threshold within 5 hours. This has resulted in the Clinton River bursting its bank and the tramping party turning back to the Clinton Hut due to waist deep flooding. In addition 85 mm of rain has fallen in the Arthur Valley in the 5 hours up to 10 am with a further up to 200 mm forecast. The Mackinnon Pass is being battered by storm force winds, with wind conditions expected to peak in the early afternoon.
DOC spokesperson, Annie Wallace advises, “A storm warning came in yesterday, with the event expected to peak this afternoon. Trampers on the Milford Track are safe and well with most trampers from Dumpling Hut proceeding off the track today before water levels peak and other trampers remaining at the huts a second night. The parties that have decided to remain at Dumpling Hut include families with children.”
No new independent walkers have started the track today, with today’s bookings cancelled as the track is fully booked. Families and operators expecting trampers to return from the track currently should expect a day’s delay until Saturday, 12 January.
Ultimate Hikes, Milford Track guided walking operation has continued to operate using helicopters to reposition walkers as required.
An assessment of track conditions will be made tomorrow morning and it is expected that operations for independent walkers will resume as usual from that time.
On the Kepler Track, trampers are travelling together across the alpine section of the track, accompanied by the ranger due to high winds and heavy rain. They are currently experiencing 60-80 kph winds with the forecast predicting gusts over 100 kph.
Other walking tracks in the region remain open with the Great Walks huts essentially full. DOC advises back country users to check the weather forecast and be aware of their level of experience and preparedness before heading into the backcountry. They are especially urged to watch out for swollen rivers and other natural hazards.
A further update will be provided at 10 am, Thursday 10 January.
- 120 independent walkers are currently on the Milford Track across three huts. 31 are expected to proceed off the track with the rest remaining an additional night.
- The intensity of this storm is less than the event on 1 January so far. That event was the heaviest rain event in 12 months.
- Peak rainfall so far is 18 mm/hr compared with 22 mm/hr in the last storm.
- This storm is accompanied by high winds unlike the storm on 1 January where wind wasn’t a significant issue. The wind is exacerbating the risk over exposed alpine sections.
- In Fiordland’s steep glaciated environment, river levels rise quickly during heavy rain but also drop quite quickly.