John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Weather breaks expected El Nino pattern

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Tauranga ended the weekend sweltering under high humidity and high temperatures in yet another day that broke the mould expected from the El Nino weather pattern.

Lawns still resemble the first flush of spring and Bay farmers are having no difficulty growing enough feed for their stock - the opposite to what was expected when meteorologists announced last year that another El Nino was on the way.

MetService meteorologist Derek Holland said the Bay was not getting typical El Nino weather. "It is quite a lot warmer and wetter than anticipated."

He said the notable thing about the El Nino event had been the big cyclones further east in the Pacific bringing down wetter weather to New Zealand, although it could be a bit hit and miss.

Tauranga's average temperature for February to yesterday was 21.5C compared with the long-term average of 19.7C.

Niwa said last September that warning bells were ringing on an international level, with World Meteorological Organisation researchers expecting parts of the Pacific to be 2C warmer than usual.

Tauranga's February rainfall to yesterday was 129mm, compared with the long-term average of 81.6mm - meaning nearly 60 per cent more rain had fallen this month than normal.

Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers dairy chairman Steve Bailey said the rain had been a blessing, but it did not counter the financial concerns facing the industry. A lot of dairy farmers had got rid of stock early on because good beef prices would help them survive the low price forecasts for milk solids.

"Farmers will farm their way through this because that is what they do, but the key thing to understand was how long this will be."

Mr Bailey said the real word was that payouts would not be what they had been.

Meanwhile, as many people were cooling off at the beach yesterday, Tauranga friends and school teachers Rose Loughlin and Sophie Church were enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the downtown waterfront.

Friends Sophie Church (left) and Rose Loughlin relaxing yesterday on Tauranga's picturesque downtown waterfront where temperatures reached 28C. Photo / George Novak
Friends Sophie Church (left) and Rose Loughlin relaxing yesterday on Tauranga's picturesque downtown waterfront where temperatures reached 28C. Photo / George Novak

Ms Loughlin said she had just bought a fan to help cool off at home. She said her classroom at Mount Intermediate had been very hot because it had no airflow.

This contrasted with Ms Church's classroom at Te Akau ki Papamoa School which had air conditioning and two ceiling fans.

Niwa scientists said last spring that the El Nino event was sending sea temperatures in parts of the Pacific to levels not seen since the late 1990s. It was expected to bring strong westerly winds that would dry out eastern areas of New Zealand.

MetService forecast for Tauranga:

* Today: Rain

* Tuesday: Cloudy, some rain

* Wednesday and Thursday: Clearing, sunnier skies.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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