By Philip Duncan, WeatherWatch
Being a forgotten region isn’t always a bad thing. Most weeks I get a few complaints from various places asking why we don’t mention them more often in our forecasts. My reply is usually the same: “Not much is happening where you are, which is a good thing” – especially if the regions we’re usually talking about are in flood or drought or have some serious weather-related problem.
Without any doubt the focus of 2023 has been on the upper and eastern North Island, with so much flooding, and slips and weather-related damage earlier this year. Neighbouring regions don’t get mentioned so much, but I see you Taranaki, Manawatū, Horowhenua, Nelson, Marlborough, Otago and others!
Over the months ahead the focus is likely to shift to those in the east of both islands as a drying-out phase continues, fuelled by both spring’s westerlies and the partial El Niño, which is still developing (and likely to be more dominant in our summer and autumn months).
These eastern regions are now starting to show signs of being drier than usual – a rapid slide since the start of August when most were too wet and muddy.
Warm days, frosty nights and some windy weather have all combined to help dry the surface of the soil in the east. It’s not this case in the west, where the ground is still very wet, muddy in places, and generally about where it should be fresh after winter has finished.
While El Niño brings drier weather to eastern and northern parts of both main islands, an El Niño spring can bring extra showers and pulses of cooler air to all western regions of NZ.
In a nutshell, this update is to prepare those in the east and north for a gradually drier and drier weather pattern to emerge – yes, there’s still some wet weather in the mix, but fewer wet days each week – and lower rainfall totals.
There is a positive twist in the forecast: this period of time – as we get warmer days and more sunlight (an extra 20 minutes more sunlight each and every week in September!) – is great for pasture growth.
Regions in the west, which are still fairly wet on foot, will be the first to notice the surge in the growth of pasture, which has been fairly dormant for the past two months due to a colder end to winter.
Extra feed is fairly low around New Zealand so a spring bounce would be hugely appreciated by many. But for those in the east, who have already had a tough 2023 due to too much rain, you should now be prepared for the pendulum to swing the other way. It looks to be a gradual fade to drier and drier weather, giving you some time to prepare for the upcoming summer and autumn.
Upcoming weather highlights
• A storm well south of New Zealand brings westerlies to NZ
• High pressure in the Tasman Sea all week and weekend (El Niño-like) – keeping NZ on the windier fringes (westerlies)
• Cold front late week for NZ