Thursday, April 25, 2024

An outlook to put a spring in your step

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Phil Duncan focuses on the shorter term and likes what he sees.
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By Philip Duncan

Every now and then I like to break away from the “lecturing forecaster” and tell people to just enjoy life. Forecasters – like radio announcers – are always telling you to be careful, slow down, watch your following distance, conserve water, be careful in the sun etcetera. But right now, at this specific time of year, it’s a time to be positive and enjoy what we have in this great country. 

At the start of last year the North Island was coming to the end of a five-year rainfall deficit. Water and fire restrictions were widespread. This spring the North Island is wet, with a great mixture of sunny and warm days. Pasture is taking off and water storage is at capacity for many. 

In the South Island it is similar – there has been an abundance of rain, and now we’re getting the mix of warmer and sunnier days. It’s rare that I get to say this, but now’s the time to enjoy having water to use, now’s the time to enjoy being out in the sunshine, now’s the time to feel positive because after the year we’ve all had, it’s great to say enjoy this healthy set-up.

There have been exhaustive stories this year about El Niño, and more to come. We all know the risks and we don’t need a weekly reminder of the possible pain. And that’s just it – “possible” pain. 

Low pressure moves away from the North Island as a cold, wintry, front approaches Southland.

Sometimes forecasters can get carried away with long-range forecasting. The science of predicting the weather months from now is the best we’ve got and is improving year after year, but it’s still not exact. New Zealand is on the edge of El Niño and La Niña weather patterns, which are measured at the equator, meaning wet weather like we’re seeing right now is quite normal.  And yes, sure, if you’re a betting person you may put money on summer being much drier than usual, but for now, it’s spring, it’s positive – let’s absorb that.  

Over the week or two ahead we still see more spring ups and downs. Certainly Australia is already experiencing a hotter spring than usual with over 100 bushfires burning last week before welcome heavy rain arrived.  

But extra warmth lately in NZ along with extra moisture is a very positive recipe for pasture growth – and also for us humans and our livestock and pets to all have a bit more of a spring in our step. 

We don’t 100% know what summer may hold, and the data leans towards hotter and drier for inland and eastern regions, but right now, let’s just enjoy what we’ve got – and that’s a fairly healthy set-up nationwide for our farmers and growers (oh, except Southland this week – there’s a reason you’re bred tougher!).

High pressure and warmer airflows from Australia return to New Zealand.


• Colder than usual this week in Southland – a bit wintry with single-digit highs for some 

• Cooler in Canterbury but mostly dry 

• Some wet weather on the West Coast 

• Fairly dry northern New Zealand

• Generally cooler than last week

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