Three-month outlook

The outlook for January 2004 to March 2004

Normal or below normal rainfall is expected in most regions, with normal rainfall in the west of the North Island, and the west and south of the South Island.

Average or above average temperatures are likely in eastern areas, with average temperatures expected for the rest of the country.

Soil moisture levels and river flows are predicted to be below normal in the east and in Nelson–Marlborough, and normal or below normal in the north of the North Island. Normal soil moisture levels and river flows are predicted elsewhere.

Equatorial sea surface temperatures are slightly higher than normal, but the other indicators show that no El Niño is expected through to early autumn 2004.

Atmospheric pressure over New Zealand is expected to be above average with more anticyclones than usual, and with more frequent westerly and northwesterly winds to the south. Local sea surface temperatures are likely to remain slightly below average throughout this period.

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).