Three-month outlook

The outlook for February 2004 to April 2004

Lower atmospheric pressures than normal are likely to the south of New Zealand over the next three months, giving an increased westerly wind over the country. Local sea surface temperatures are likely to remain near average during autumn.

Equatorial sea surface temperatures are slightly higher than normal (which is typical of El Niño), but other indicators show that no El Niño is expected through autumn 2004.

Normal or above normal rainfall is expected in western regions, with below normal or normal rainfall in the eastern South Island, and near normal falls elsewhere.

Average or above average temperatures are likely in all regions, apart from the west and south of the South Island, where near average temperatures are expected.

Below normal soil moisture levels and river flows are predicted for the east of the South Island. Elsewhere, soil moisture levels and river flows are expected to be normal, apart from below normal or normal river flows in the Nelson Marlborough region.

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).