Forecast is for warmth into autumn

Summer warmth could spill into the start of autumn weather forecasters have said, but the amount of rain expected is harder to pin down.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) yesterday released its seasonal outlook for the next three months.

In Eastern Otago and Dunedin, there was a 50% likelihood of above average temperatures for the season, and a 45% likelihood that temperatures would match the usual averages.

For Western Otago and Southland, above average temperatures were even more likely at 65%, with average temperatures sitting at 30%.

Niwa National Climate Centre forecasting principal scientist Chris Brandolino said March in particular was likely to see hotter and drier weather than usual for most of the country except the west coast of the South Island.

Outside of a "puff of chilly air" to pass through Otago and Southland next Monday, southerners could expect "some pretty warm weather for the time of year".

The warm dry weather was expected to change around the end of the month.

Warmer than usual ocean temperatures around New Zealand meant the last few days of March and the first 10 days of April were more likely to have stormy weather developing.

The wild weather would be driven by a weather phenomenon known as Madden-Julian Oscillation.

"It’s a pulse of rain and thunderstorms that circumnavigates the globe every 45 to 60 days or so.

"When that swings around our neck of the woods in the summer and early autumn, that does increase the chances for tropical cyclones to develop."

While Niwa said that it was most likely that Otago and Southland would see average levels of rainfall between March and May, it did hedge its bets somewhat.

The likelihood for eastern Otago and Dunedin having average levels of rainfall was 45%, with 30% chance of above normal rain, and 25% chance below normal.

For Western Otago and Southland it was 40% chance of average rainfall, 35% chance above average and 25% chance below.

Niwa also said it had low to medium confidence levels in its longer range rain prediction, as the effects of tropical cyclones were difficult to predict from this far ahead of time.

andrew.marshall@odt.co.nz

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