Steady drizzle may have rained off the cricket in Dunedin but
it failed to dampen more than the central city, leaving the
rest of the area in extreme fire risk.
The rain had not spread to the Strath Taieri and the northern
coast of the city by yesterday afternoon, leaving rural fire
staff maintaining a close watch on fire indicators in those
By 5pm only 4.8mm of rain had fallen in Dunedin and 1.8mm at
the airport, well short of the last significant rainfall of
23mm in early February.
Rural fire officer Graeme Still said the Strath Taieri and
northern coast of the city were at high to extreme fire risk.
''We're monitoring the situation very closely.''
Mr Still said the Department of Conservation and Waitaki and
Clutha councils would reassess the situation, including the
long-range forecast, tomorrow. If no significant rain was
forecast it was likely a prohibited fire season would be
Even with yesterday's rain, if the wind returned it would be
''back to square one'' in the city.
At least 25mm to 40mm of rain was needed before the fire risk
would decrease, he said.
While not out of the ordinary, the area's dryness could
become more of a problem if no rain fell before the frosts of
April which would dry the ground out further.
Yesterday's rain did provide some relief for the city's water
Dunedin City Council water production manager Gerard McCombie
said the cool weather had reduced demand by about 12%, easing
pressure during the repairs to the Deep Stream pipeline.
''It has definitely dampened down the garden demand.''
As the rain had not reached that far inland, the repair work
had been able to continue this week.
It would reopen today to allow farmers to top up their stock
water systems before possibly being shut down again next
week, depending on contractors' progress, he said.