Thursday, November 30, 2023

Wet Waikato has more rain still to come

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Some locations have had over a year’s worth of rain at the halfway mark.
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Philip Duncan, WeatherWatch Senior Analyst

Waikato is drenched at the moment, though it’s not making the news like eastern parts of the North Island have. The flatness of Waikato means slips and big dramatic washouts are less likely for the most part, but the rain has been relentless in some areas of the region across 2023. 

Some locations have had over a year’s worth of rain at the halfway mark. June was mixed up, though. The nature of the fractured rain events and the isolated downpours and thunderstorms meant some in Waikato actually had below their usual June average, while others had more than twice their normal amount. 

The Hauraki Plains, once a swamp and now some fantastic dairy farming land, are back to swampy in many places with canals full and the water table at pasture level. It’s a tough time for the farmers (and cattle), with the mud being one of the biggest complaints we’re seeing on social media. 

As we go through July there is a shift in our weather pattern, but it’s not one that will help Waikato just yet (or the wet east). The shift is to more westerly driven weather. This is better news for eastern parts of the country that are so wet and muddy, but for those in the west it means cold fronts. 

The western side of New Zealand is likely to be wetter in the weeks ahead, but the eastern side isn’t going to go dry instantly, with some wet days coming up this month from the northeast and the south still bringing the chance of heavy falls to eastern parts of the North Island. 

Back over in Waikato, they are likely to get a further 30 to 80mm in the next couple of weeks – the closer to the Tasman Sea you are, the wetter the weather. The driest part of NZ in the coming few weeks will likely be Central Otago and Southland, with perhaps only a few millimetres falling in some inland areas there.

El Niño is still building but it’s really important to note it’s not officially here yet. Our weather patterns are messy and chaotic, and so if you’re expecting a big dry pattern to quickly turn up you may be disappointed. 

The last La Niña event was supposed to fade out around late December 2022/January 2023 – but it took until late March to do so. Likewise, it may be months yet before a drier El Niño pattern really sets in for NZ. There’s going to be some transitioning to that, but the chaotic, neutral weather pattern is still very much here for NZ.

Upcoming highlights:

• Low pressure east of NZ could bring in rain (with some heavy falls) to the east between Christchurch and Gisborne.

• Eastern NZ isn’t yet in a dry set-up

• Later this week another southerly change (around Thursday)

• Low pressure dominates the country this week

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