Home' Greymouth Star : December 3rd 2014 Contents A Niwa climate scientist is awaiting a
ruling from the World Meteorological
Organisation (WMO) on whether New
Zealand’s coldest recorded temperature
will be accepted as an official world
Gregor Macara has submitted a detailed
report to the WMO about a temperature
of -25.6degC recorded at Ranfurly, central
Otago on July 17, 1903.
The WMO is currently considering
the report and if accepted, the Ranfurly
obser vation would become the coldest
recorded temperature for the Oceania
Mr Macara conducted a lengthy
investigation on the temperature recording,
which included hunting through the
newspaper archives of the Otago Daily
Times, Southland Times, Tuapeka Times
and the Mt Ida Chronicle.
“It wasn’t the kind of scientific research
I am used to, but I was trying to find
out what the weather conditions were in
the lead up to this coldest temperature
obser vation. Temperatures like this don’t
occur in isolation in New Zealand, you
need a specific sequence of weather
Mr Macara looked at July news articles
and discovered there was a massive snow
storm throughout the South Island on July
10. In the days immediately following, the
skies cleared under a high pressure system
and enabled the temperatures to drop
A report in the Otago Daily Times
on July 18 said: “ The 2.10pm train from
Dunedin to Ida Valley could not get
beyond Middlemarch, as on arrival at the
latter station it was found that no water
could be got for the engine, the water in
the tanks having been frozen into one solid
Three days later, on July 21, the Otago
Daily Times reported: “Beef and mutton
are frozen, and can only be cut with a
saw or chopper, a knife being of no use.
Turnips, potatoes and milk are also frozen,
and the ink in the post office is in a similar
The -25.6degC temperature was recorded
at Eweburn Nursery, where a plantation of
pine trees had been established, on a form
headed Meteorological Return (3rd Class
Mr Macara said unfortunately there
was quite a lack of station information,
especially when it came to the instruments
used and obser vation procedures employed.
“ We can’t be 100% certain of the
instruments accuracy given there’s no
indication they were verified at the time,
but on the balance of evidence there’s no
real reason to doubt it did get so cold.”
The WMO keeps an official, unbiased list
of world weather extremes and has a set
of procedures to verify and certify records.
It is expected to release its decision on the
Ranfurly temperature early in the New
In the meantime, Mr Macara is now
working on second report for the WMO.
This one is on New Zealand’s highest
temperature of 42.4degC recorded at
Rangiora on February 7, 1973.
Currently the WMO lists 42.2degC
recorded at Tuguegarao, Philippines, on
April 29, 1912 as the highest ever recorded
Mr Macara says the temperature
investigations have been very interesting.
“It is important to maintain reliable
records of weather and climate extremes as
they can be used as indicators of climate
variability and change.” — Niwa
he men are holed up with
their buses on the college’s
soccer field, sleeping in the
compartments that once
held passenger luggage and
hanging the clothes they
have hand-washed from the windshields.
While attention has focused on the
kidnapping and disappearance of 43
students from the Raul Isidro Burgos
teachers college in Tixtla, few have paid
much attention to the three dozen or more
bus drivers who say they are being forced
by activists from the school to live as
captives and act as chauffeurs for the very
people who commandeered their vehicles.
The drivers, some of whom have been
at the southern Mexico school more
than a month, say they cannot abandon
the buses because their companies hold
them financially responsible for the
vehicles, some of which are worth well
over $US100,000. And with authorities
unwilling to inflame tensions over the
disappearance and presumed massacre of
students from the school, no one is coming
to their rescue.
“They say we aren’t kidnapped because
we can get out and walk around, or swim
in the (campus) pool,” one driver who, like
the others holed up at the school, refused
to give his name for fear of angering the
students, said. “But a prison inmate can
also go out to the exercise yard or the gym,
and that doesn’t mean they ’re free.”
The students, who have a long history of
sometimes violent activism, have justified
the mass bus seizure as “an expropriation”
and say they need the vehicles to ferry
them to and from the many protests that
have erupted in Guerrero state since the
September 26 disappearance and likely
killing of their colleagues. Omar Garcia,
a second-year student at the school,
acknowledged it has put the drivers in a
bad spot, unable to leave or earn a living
to feed their families. But he said the
students had no other choice, since they
did not know how to maintain the buses
or drive such large vehicles.
Drivers have begged their employers
to send replacements so they can go
home and see their families. So far most
companies have refused, though Garcia
said an agreement was in the works
between the students and the bus owners
that would allow drivers to rotate out
every 10 days. Several bus companies
with vehicles at the school declined to
comment, except to acknowledge that
they hold the drivers responsible for
the vehicles as a matter of policy. The
companies say hijackings have become
such a frequent problem that some lines
have cut back on runs through southern
The plight of the drivers at the teachers
college is just one example of the
government ’s inability to keep the peace
in Guerrero state since the students
disappeared, allegedly on orders from a
local mayor whose corrupt police handed
them over to drug traffickers.
Masked students also control toll booths
to collect “donations” from motorists
passing on the federal highway and
hijack passenger buses for their own use.
Protesters from a local teachers’ union
have burned vehicles, public buildings and
the offices of political parties, all while
federal and state police stood nearby.
The disappearance of the students has
ignited public outrage, with near-daily
protests against a government blamed
both directly and indirectly for their fate.
Such tension has complicated any attempt
to help the bus drivers.
“The police ... are not taking action
at this moment to avoid giving the
appearance of acts of repression,” Guerrero
state prosecutors’ spokesman Jorge Valdez
said. “ It is the concept of not trying to put
out a fire by pouring more gasoline on it.”
The state’s new governor, a former leftist
rebel himself, is “ looking for a mechanism
of conciliation, negotiation, persuasion
— a political mechanism” to control the
groups, Valdez said.
Authorities also wish to avoid a repeat
of an incident three years ago, when police
shot and killed two young men from the
school while trying to clear a student
roadblock. A dozen officers were arrested
and two of them charged.
The soccer field has become a parking
lot for not only the buses, but for seized
delivery trucks that once held Coca-Cola
and goods from milk, cheese and snack
companies. The drivers said the students
looted the goods and sold the merchandise
to local vendors.
One bus driver said he has been held
since October 24 when he was stopped
while driving about a dozen passengers to
Acapulco. A group of students blocked a
road near Chilpancingo and threatened to
pelt the bus with rocks unless he opened
the door. The students, he said, boarded
and ordered the passengers to get off.
On a recent day, a hijacked gas tanker
sat on the field near about 30 luxury buses
from the lines that carry Mexico City
vacationers to and from Acapulco. All of
the buses are late model, with leather seats
and individual televisions.
“They know perfectly well which ones
are the new ones,” another driver, who
also feared giving his name, said of the
Reporters discovered the captive drivers
while reporting on the missing students,
and had to talk quickly before students
shooed them away.
One driver warned journalists, “if they
see you talking to us, they ’ll break your
A pair of students approached reporters
as they left the lot. “ Who gave you
permission to be here?” they asked in
The men, who are fed simple meals by
the students, said their companies do not
pay them for their time as captives.
While the students have promised to
give them money when they are released,
the drivers say that if they do receive
anything, it would not come close to their
normal earnings of nearly 20,000 pesos
($NZ1800) per month.
“ I haven’t had a cheque for a month. I
have to ask for a line of credit that I can’t
pay,” another driver, who was shirtless
because he was hand-washing his only set
of clothes, said.
“ I’m being ruined.” — AP
4 - Wednesday, December 3, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1621 - Galileo perfects the telescope.
1808 - Madrid surrenders to Napoleon
Bonaparte’s French forces.
1828 - Andrew Jackson is elected the
seventh president of the United States.
1958 - D utch businesses are
nationalised in Indonesia.
1961 - United States deploys
platoon of troops along border
between East and West Berlin
as East Germany begins
strengthening Berlin Wall.
1971 - India declares state
of emergency as Pakistani planes attack
northwestern India in dispute over Kashmir.
1979 - Christie’s auction house in New York
sets a record, selling a thimble for $US18,400.
1984 - More than 4000 people die after a
cloud of gas escapes from a pesticide plant
operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in
1990 - Two jets taxiing for a take-off at
Detroit airport collide killing nine people.
1999 - Tori Murden, a Kentucky lawyer,
becomes the first American — and first
woman — to row 4800km across the Atlantic
2002 - World Food Program warns the UN
Security Council that a record 38 million
people are at risk of starvation in Africa.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Aaron Ludvig Holberg, Danish philosopher-
poet (1684-1754); Joseph Conrad,
Polish-British writer (1857-
1924); Anna Freud, Austrian
psychoanalyst (1895-1982); Andy
Williams, US Singer (1927-2012);
Jean-Luc Godard, French film
director (1930-); Ozzy Osbourne,
British rock singer (1948-); Daryl
Hannah, US actress (1960-);
Julianne Moore, US actress (1960-); Amanda
Seyfried, US actress (1985-).
“There is many a good man to be found under
a shabby hat.” — Chinese proverb.
“ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be
called sons of God.” — Matthew 5:9.
A little of the Buller
Gorge road “blew ”
into the Buller River
yesterday. But it was
gelignite and not wind which did the blowing.
Blasting at Dublin Terrace in the gorge
appeared to get a little out of hand yesterday,
or someone was a little heavy-handed with the
The upshot was long lines of cars and buses
held up on either side of the slip in a narrow
section of the road. Some fissures opened up in
the road’s surface and by the time earthmoving
equipment had cleared a path, Newman’s bus
passengers bound for Greymouth, had been
delayed three hours.
The road had been prepared, the gravel lay
in readiness to be spread over the first coating
of tar. Everything was set for the three-mile
stretch between McDonald’s Creek and the
Franz Josef Glacier township of Waiho to be
sealed. But work was cut short abruptly for the
truck, belonging to Highways Construction
Ltd, which carried the black liquid, suddenly
burst into flames yesterday morning.
The flames quickly took control of the
situation and completely destroyed the vehicle.
The incident occurred about 11am yesterday.
The origin of the fire is uncertain, but it may
hamper the sealing of the road in to the
A sign, indicating where a plaque
commemorating the discovery of greenstone
is situated near Arahura, is to be erected by
the West Coast branch of the Automobile
Association. This was decided at the monthly
meeting of the branch last night.
Mr C N Young requested a sign on behalf of
the regional Historic Places Trust committee.
uFood for thought
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Buses filled with protesters make their way along a highway in Tixtla.
Masked protesters look out the windows of a bus.
NZ bid for freezing temperature to be recognised
A snow-covered street in St Bathans, central Otago, photographed in July 1903 by F M Pyle.
Highest temperature: 56.7degC, July 10, 2013 at Furnace Creek Ranch,
Lowest temperature: -89 .2degC, July 21, 1983 at Vostok, Antarctica.
Greatest 60 minute rainfall: 305mm, June 22, 1947 at Holt, Missouri.
Greatest 12 month rainfall: 26.47m, August 1860 to July 1861 at
Heaviest hailstone: 1.02kg, April 14, 1986 at Gopalganj district, Bangladesh.
Maximum wind gust: 407.16kph, April 10, 1996 at Barrow Island, Australia.
WHO’s world weather extremes
Drinking a large glass of wine is as
potentially harmful as downing three shots
of vodka, a United Kingdom senior health
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public
Health England, warned that liver disease
is a “silent killer” and now accounts for
500% more deaths among working age
people than in the 1970s.
“It is currently the third biggest killer of
working age adults after ischaemic heart
disease and self-harm,” he said.
“And it is a silent killer, with 75% of
people with cirrhosis only being diagnosed
once they are admitted to hospital. Liver
disease is largely preventable with the
three big risk factors being alcohol — for
example, a large glass of wine is like three
shots of vodka, so it is very easy for people
to pour a glass and have no idea how much
they are drinking — obesity and viral
A 250ml glass of wine with an alcohol
volume of 12.5% contains three units,
according to the NHS, while one small
single shot of vodka with a volume of 40%
is the equivalent of one unit.
Last week experts published a blueprint
for tackling the problem of liver disease
in the UK. The Lancet Commission on
Liver Disease said it “stands out as the one
glaring exception to the vast improvements
made during the past 30 years in health and
life expectancy for chronic disorders such as
stroke, heart disease, and many cancers”.
The commission made a number of
recommendations including “scaling up”
national action to reduce the consumption
of alcohol. — PA
Wine could be as harmful as vodka
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