Dry spell set to continue: forecasters

There is not much rain forecast for the central part of the South Island. PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
There is not much rain forecast for the central part of the South Island. PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
Central South Island farmers should not pin their hopes on the dry spell changing any time soon, with weather forecasters indicating there is little rain on the horizon.

MetService modelling has the outlook for next month likely to include more hot conditions in eastern areas, with any rain unlikely to be drought-breaker material, and only dampening ground cover.

Forecaster Rochelle Fleming said no promises could be made at this stage in regards to farmer hopes that there might be some relief.

PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
"Heading into March it does look like there could be a bit of a respite from the westerly regime we’ve had over recent times, which does make the forecasts look a little uncertain.

"There’s hints we may see a low forming somewhere near New Zealand. At this stage we can’t exactly pin down where, but it does lead to some uncertainty.

"For the central part of the South Island, the main story is there aren’t really any strong indicators for rain coming to those eastern areas."

PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
Rainfall is back slightly, with 65mm recorded at Christchurch Airport for the year to February 20, compared with normal levels of 70mm for 1991 to 2020. Average temperatures for the same period are warmer, at 17.9°C compared with 19°C.

Influencing weather patterns were above normal temperatures for the equatorial Pacific ocean and a slab of warm water along the eastern coast of Australia.

Mrs Fleming said the area had been in an El Nino all summer with the westerly flow reinforced over the past few weeks, especially over central and southern New Zealand.

PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
"It hasn’t been the classic El Nino that people were probably expecting, and as we went into it back before Christmas we were saying at MetService this may not play out like people think of El Ninos.

"That’s probably what we’ve seen this summer as we’ve had these westerly spells, but we’ve also had these spells where you look at the weather map and it doesn’t look like an El Nino — so it has been a little atypical and it just happens in recent times that everything’s come together with that underlying El Nino to reinforce that westerly [flow].

She said modelling indicated the oceanic side of El Nino would come back to neutral levels heading into autumn and winter.

"What we do often see in New Zealand in an El Nino summer is the peak can be late summer and early autumn."

PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
However, within any season there would be variability and up and down changes with lots of factors at play, she said.

Mrs Fleming said a possible respite from the winds for Canterbury failed to include strong indications of a lot of moisture coming soon.

"There’s probably no real let-up that we can see, from what the data is indicating."

tim.cronshaw@alliedpress.co.nz