New Zealand’s planetary location appears to be taking the edge off what is a relatively strong El Niño weather pattern, says WeatherWatch head forecaster Philip Duncan.
He said that while no two El Niño weather patterns are the same, this current event is peaking.
It has been marked by regular heavy – albeit isolated – rainfall downpours of up to 70mm and high pressure systems sitting further south than normal for an El Niño, reducing the influence of dry weather systems on NZ but bringing rain to the Australian east coast.
He rates the seriousness of this El Niño event a six or seven out of 10.
“You can have an El Niño and it can be a bit broken,” Duncan said.
Duncan said this NZ summer has been drier than last but he warns that parts of the east coast of both islands are starting to dry.
He is forecasting little rain this week but that could change next week, and for the rest of January he expects most places to get some rain.
“The placement of high pressure systems should be kind and allow more sub-tropical energy to be part of the mix.”
A prohibited fire season has been declared in the Mackenzie Basin, Dunedin, Strath Taieri and Coastal Waitaki, Clutha, Upper Waitaki, Lakes, and Central zones and parts of Southland. A restricted fire season has been imposed on Wairarapa.
There have been several potentially serious vegetation fires already this summer, including Canterbury, Matakana Island and Lake Ohau in South Canterbury on January 7 that Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) warned came within 100m of a tree plantation.
FENZ reports that NZ has about 4400 vegetation fires each year, and they on average burn about 6000ha.