Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Still no relief

Northland is in need of some heavy rain to help alleviate the drought. Photo / John Stone
Northland is in need of some heavy rain to help alleviate the drought. Photo / John Stone

Much-needed rain in the North Island will not be enough to bring relief to parched farms after the driest February in 40 years.

Patchy showers have fallen in the central, northern and eastern North Island this morning, but barely enough to top up water tanks and penetrate dry soil.

Police in southern Waikato are warning motorists to take care on the roads, with the light rain after an extremely long dry period making the roads greasy.

The rain comes after the Government declared a drought in Northland, with droughts likely to be declared in Waikato and Hawkes Bay this week.

Last month was New Zealand's driest February since 1973 - the same month New Zealand had its hottest ever day of 42C in Christchurch.

WeatherWatch weather analyst Richard Green said this morning's showers were very localised and lasted for about half an hour.

The showers may have looked impressive, but they were expected to be short-lived - and they had only brought about 5mm of rain.

That was well short of the 50-100mm needed to alleviate the dry soil conditions.

"It's just been patchy showers this morning. It's a start, but not enough," Mr Green said.

"We'd need about another 10 days like today to alleviate the situation."

Mr Green said all the moisture would evaporate over the next few days.

"And by Friday it will be like it never fell, which is not great either."

There would not be enough rain for flash floods, and barely enough to top up water tanks

Mr Green said farmers had been in touch to say they were happy to see the rain.

"But they're more frustrated because it looks more ominous than what it's actually delivering, so it is disappointing for farmers.

"They want to see more and I would say that we're looking at more droughts being declared over the next week to 10 days by the Government."

Waikato and Hawkes Bay were the next likely candidates for droughts to be declared - with Wairarapa and parts of Rotorua and Canterbury also potential candidates.

Mr Green said the dry spell would continue for at least the next fortnight, with pockets of showers but nothing significant.

He said the anticyclones which had been blocking potential rain-makers were expected to last until the end of the month, which was not good news for farmers.

Central, northern and eastern parts of the country could get some more significant rain about a fortnight from now - but long-range models in the last month had often promised rain but failed to deliver.

- APNZ

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