Climate Update 33 - March 2002

March

Climate

River flows

Soil moisture

Three-month outlook

Checkpoint

Backgrounder

Backgrounder

Backgrounder
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Checkpoint

Outlook and outcome – December 2001 to February 2002
Parts of the southwest of the South Island experienced the predicted below average rainfall. Central New Zealand and eastern North Island regions received more rain than was predicted. There was near average seasonal rainfall elsewhere as expected.
The anticipated average to above average temperatures were experienced over much of the country.

March

Climate Update is a summary each month of New Zealand's climate, including soil moisture and river flows.
March 2002 – Number 33
February’s climate: Mostly cloudy and cool.

Climate

New Zealand Climate in February 2002
A month of contrasts
It was dry, warm, and sunny on the South Island’s west coast, while eastern South Island regions experienced cool, cloudy conditions. The lower North Island was wet, while much of the upper half was drier than normal.
Patchy rainfall
Some parts of the lower North Island, including Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay, had double their normal rainfall. An isolated extreme rainfall event on 21 February brought more than three times normal February rainfall to Great Barrier Island.

Three-month outlook

The outlook for March to May 2002
March to May 2002
The present neutral phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is likely to remain through autumn. An El Niño 'alert' is in place, with some early signs that an El Niño could develop by spring, although this is not yet certain.
South Island temperatures are expected to be above normal in the west and normal to below normal in the east. Near normal temperatures are expected in Nelson and Marlborough.

River flows

New Zealand River Flows in February 2002
Low flows in the south and west of the South Island
February river flows were very low on the South Island’s west coast and alpine areas, and in coastal Southland and Otago. Inland Southland and Otago, and much of the North Island, recorded near average flows, while in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay the flows were higher than average.

Soil moisture

Soil moisture on 28 February
Some areas drier than average
At the end of February, total root zone soil moisture availability was down from average in the key livestock farming areas of Northland, Waikato and the central North Island, East Cape, Marlborough, south Canterbury, and North and Central Otago.