Rain brings drought relief, but 'still early days'

Rainfall will bring relief to drought-stricken farmers in some parts of the country this week but the crisis is far from over, say experts.

Gusts of up to 90km/h hit Northland today and rain fell in areas of the region as a sub-tropical low moved south.

Among the parts of Northland to receive the biggest downpour were Kerikeri, 62mls, and Kaikohe, 40mls, with several other places getting 20-30mms, said MetService forecaster Oliver Druce.

But it was "still early days'' for much of the country still gripped by drought, after one of the driest summers in more than 50 years, he said.

Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, have only had patchy rain so far, with more relief expected for the regions and the rest of the North Island from tomorrow as a front spreads south down the country.

Heavy rainfall warnings are in place for Bay of Plenty and western parts of Nelson, where between 120 and 150mls are expected to fall in the next 36 hours.

"It's going to be rain all day. They're not super unusual amounts but certainly bigger than anything they've had for ages.''

The downpour is expected to ease on Wednesday before returning later in the week, especially in North Island areas, Mr Druce said.

"So places that don't get as much as they would like this time can have another go on Friday and Saturday. They're going to get different amounts in different places so it would be hard to generalise but this is a substantial step towards relieving the drought.''

Waikato Federated Farmers' president James Houghton said they had yet to see any more than 1-2mms of rain in the region and had high hopes for the downpour forecast later this week.

"It would be great to see 20-30mm. We just need rain to get things going so we can work and plan forward.

"Small parts of the Waikato have had some rain so they're looking better than others but there are still some that are very brown and very short,'' he said.

While the rainfall was good news, it would not be enough for many affected farmers, said Federated Farmers' West Coast chairwoman Katie Milne.

"The damage is already done. The feed reserves are so low that they're not going to be enough to get us through winter. The worst is yet to unfold, unfortunately.''

However the rainfall would help with grass growth for next spring, she said.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 30 Aug 2014 20:30:38 Processing Time: 679ms