Three-month outlook

The outlook for December 2003 to February 2004

Local circulation patterns are expected to favour below average mean sea-level pressures southeast of the country and somewhat enhanced southwesterly winds over New Zealand.

Normal or below normal rainfall is expected for the eastern South Island and northern North Island, with normal rainfalls elsewhere. Average temperatures are likely in the North Island and northern South Island, with average or below average temperatures expected for the rest of the South Island.

Soil moisture levels and river flows are predicted to be below normal in the north of the North Island and east of the South Island, normal or below normal in the east of the North Island, and normal elsewhere, except for normal or below normal flows in the northern South Island.

There is a near-average risk of an ex-tropical cyclone coming within 500 km of New Zealand over the November–April cyclone season.

The tropical Pacific is in a neutral state and is expected to remain neutral (no El Niño or La Niña) through to early autumn 2004.

A. Climate models give no strong signals about how the climate will evolve, so we assume that there is an equal chance (33%) of the climate occurring in the range of the upper, middle or lower third (tercile) of all previously observed conditions.

B. There is a relatively strong indication by the models (60% chance of occurrence) that conditions will be below average, but, given the variable nature of climate, the chance of average or above-average conditions is also shown (30% and 10% respectively).