Editorial: No winning with weird weather

By Andrew Austin

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Hawke's Bay weather has been a bit weird this year.

It just seems to have been out of whack and slightly confused. I was not here last summer, but from what I am told it was quite wet and not consistent. This winter has seen the wet continue and although I have found it cold - coming from Auckland - locals tell me that it has not been as cold as winters of bygone years.

Now we are told that drought conditions could soon happen, with the Japan Meteorological Agency confirming the onset of an El Nino. El Ninos usually see an increase in drier, westerly winds in summer for the North Island, and the possibility of drought on the East Coast.

Talk about going from one extreme to another. Our poor farmers have spent the winter dealing with wet soggy pastures and now they are going to have to cope with the exact opposite. Niwa agricultural climatologist Alan Porteous says the super-wet of the past few months has seen a lot of slips and slope stability has been worrisome. He said a rapid switch to really dry conditions would exacerbate the soil conditions already caused by the saturation, and could then see soil dry out so rapidly that it cracks up and makes it more vulnerable to the next heavy rain.

It must be a tough gig, farming.

The rest of us will welcome a bit of dry weather after all the rain we have had, but who knows, by the end of summer, we may be crying out for a bit of relief from the heat.

The positive spin on the warm weather is that hopefully the tourists will flock to the Bay to enjoy our marvellous sunshine and boost our economy. However, if it goes on too long and gets too hot and dry then the produce we also rely on to keep our economy strong will suffer.

Here's hoping that the El Nino prediction is only half right. A beautiful warm summer that stops short of drought conditions. That way everyone's a winner.

The tourist operators smile and the farmers don't suffer.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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