Irrigation bans are expected on three Hawke's Bay rivers as the region faces a possible drought in the wake of this week's heat wave and continuing hot weather.
The warning came yesterday from Hawke's Bay Regional Council resource management group manager Iain Maxwell, who said that with no foreseeable rain, bans would be in place in a week.
Late yesterday, MetService's forecasts carried no hint of rain in the next 10 days in Hawke's Bay and East Coast areas north of the Takapau Plains, apart from some cloud on Monday and Tuesday.
Longer term, Niwa expects rainfall at below average.
Mr Maxwell says whether that translates into the first region-wide drought in almost five years remains to be seen. "It'd be like trying to give out the Lotto number," he said, "but we're going to need reasonable amounts of rain to increase the soil moisture and bring river levels back up."
Facing the bans are parts of the Ngaruroro, Waipawa and Tukituki rivers and, unless there's rain, more than 200 water rights holders will be hit.
"This is an important time of year for Hawke's Bay's cropping farmers, so as you can imagine this is a very stressful situation for all farmers," he said.
The warnings came as temperatures in parts of the Bay yesterday passed the 30C mark again, although generally 3-4C below Thursday's readings.
The highest on recognised websites was a maximum of 32.2C in Wairoa, compared with 35.2C the previous day, when another website reported a personal weather station (PWS) high at Nuhaka of 37.7C.
Temperatures were cooling by late afternoon, well below those of the same time the previous day, when temperatures peaked at about 4.30pm.