It was like the anniversary present you don't want as 30 years since benchmark storm Cyclone Bola was marked with some of the heaviest rain in recent decades.

The heaviest official rainfall figure recorded by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's monitoring system was the 329mm in just over 24 hours to early yesterday afternoon at a site just off Glengarry Rd, south of the Napier-Taupo road and about 1km from the Esk River.

Falling in the same overnight time-zone as that which flooded the area in Cyclone Bola, the impact of which hit Hawke's Bay on March 6-8, 1988, the 329mm (12.95 inches) is almost three times the March average over the same 30-year period.

The rain was even heavier at a Beattie Rd property where farming identity Phil Holt was staying with his daughter and where there had been 354mm of rain in 12 to 13 hours, including 126mm in two hours about dawn yesterday.


At his own property, just 5-6km away, there was barely 30mm.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council principal scientist climate and air Dr Kathleen Kosyniak said the most intense rainfall was "quite focused", in contrast to the much wider spread of Cyclone Bola which had rainfalls of over 700mm in areas between Napier and Hastings, a peak of 917mm near Tolaga Bay (north of Gisborne), and over 100mm throughout the North Island and top of the South Island.

The Glengarry and Beattie Rd recordings highlighted the localised nature of the deluge - other sites in the same Tangoio sub-region had significantly less.

Maunganui had 132.5mm (March average is 210mm), Waihau had 122.6mm (March average 165mm), Kaiwaka had 118.4mm (March average 117mm), Te Pohue had 108.6mm (March average 198mm) and Te Rangi had 72mm (March average 151mm).

In northern Hawke's Bay, where heavy rain was being forecast for during the night to this morning the most rain this month to late yesterday afternoon was under 40mm, but in Southern Hawke's Bay the heaviest was at Mangaorapa, where the 147mm fell.

In Hastings, more than 80mm of rain had been recorded in the 18 hours to 6pm yesterday, with another 30mm more forecast up to noon today, while in Napier (at 6pm yesterday) there had been 66mm in about 48 hours, with over 40mm more forecast for the 18 hours to midday, according to MetService figures.

The rain also falls on the first anniversary of the nicknamed Tasman Tempest which brought heavy rain to Hawke's Bay.

Historically, the Esk Valley-Tangoio area has had several other major floods, notably around Anzac Day, 1938, and Queen's Birthday, 1963, when there was about 400mm of rain in 24 hours.

The 1938 flood was just 190 weeks after the flash flood which killed 21 people at a Ministry of Works camp north of Wairoa.

The next most tragic flood recorded in Hawke's Bay was known as the Clive Flood, in which 10 people are recorded as losing their lives trying to rescue people from the flooded Clive settlement on April 16, 1897.