Meat & Livestock News

New Zealand Experiences Moderate Impact from El Niño, WeatherWatch Reports

A dramatic landscape view with sun rays shining through a dark cloudy sky

New Zealand’s unique geographical position is softening the effects of the current strong El Niño weather pattern, according to Philip Duncan, head forecaster at WeatherWatch. Duncan notes that while each El Niño event is distinct, the current one is reaching its peak.

This El Niño has been characterised by frequent, though localised, heavy rainfalls, with some areas receiving up to 70mm. Additionally, high-pressure systems are positioned further south than usual for an El Niño. This shift has lessened the dry weather impact on New Zealand but has brought increased rainfall to Australia’s east coast.

Duncan rates the severity of this El Niño at six or seven out of ten. He explains that El Niño patterns can vary in their effects. This summer in New Zealand has been drier compared to the last, but Duncan warns of increasing dryness along the east coasts of both the North and South Islands.

The forecast for the upcoming week suggests little rain, but this could change the following week. For the remainder of January, most regions are expected to receive some rainfall. Duncan predicts that the placement of high-pressure systems will allow more sub-tropical energy to influence the weather.

In response to the dry conditions, a prohibited fire season has been declared in several regions, including the Mackenzie Basin, Dunedin, Strath Taieri, Coastal Waitaki, Clutha, Upper Waitaki, Lakes, Central zones, and parts of Southland. Meanwhile, a restricted fire season is in effect in Wairarapa.

New Zealand has already experienced several significant vegetation fires this summer, including incidents in Canterbury, Matakana Island, and Lake Ohau in South Canterbury on January 7. Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) reported that one fire came dangerously close, within 100 metres, of a tree plantation. On average, New Zealand faces about 4,400 vegetation fires annually, burning around 6,000 hectares.