Long time between rainwater drinks

By Anne-Marie Emerson

Today it is one month since the last drop of rain fell in Wanganui.

Soil moisture levels are in extreme deficit and drought is being considered in the Rangitikei and Manawatu, with the Rangitikei River at an eight-year low and the Oroua River at a 15-year low.

Taihape has had just 20mm of rain in the past six weeks, and stock is being trucked out of the district.

Despite that, figures released this week by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) show that in Wanganui, it was a very sunny but otherwise unremarkable February.

At 64mm, rainfall for the month was 83 per cent of the February average - well above most other parts of the North Island. Kaitaia had just 5 per cent of its average February rainfall, with a paltry 7mm, and a drought was declared in Northland last week.

Georgina Griffiths from Niwa said temperatures were about normal for February. The mean temperature was 17.9C, slightly below average. The mean afternoon temperature was 22.7C - average for February - while the mean morning temperature was 0.8C lower than average on 13.2C.

Ms Griffiths said the highest temperature for the month was 27.3C, recorded on February 3, and the lowest was 7.5C, recorded on February 6.

While sunshine hours are not recorded in Wanganui, Ms Griffiths said areas around Wanganui had recorded very high sunshine hours. Palmerston North had 132 per cent of its normal February sunshine and Stratford had record February sunshine hours.

"So we would expect Wanganui to have been unusually sunny in February," she said.

Ms Griffiths said Taranaki had a particularly sunny start to 2013 - with 634 hours it's the sunniest place in New Zealand so far this year.

As for autumn, Wanganui can expect a dry, mild autumn, with near average rainfall and near average or above average temperatures.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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