Severe soil moisture deficits along the east coast of the South Island, and in Nelson and parts of Otago, remained through much of February. North Island soils were dry for much of the month. The extent of the dry conditions across the country was unusual.
The dry surface conditions resulted in total fire bans in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Bay of Plenty, with restrictions applied in most other areas of New Zealand.
Rain late in the month brought some relief to northern and eastern areas, and to western Taranaki.
Soil moisture deficit in the pasture root zone at the end of February (right) compared with the deficit at the same time last year (centre) and the long term end of February average (left). The analysis is done for an average soil type where the available water capacity is taken to be 150 mm.