Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Drier weather to end winter

File photo / Sarah Ivey
File photo / Sarah Ivey

A drier late winter is on the way for much of the North Island following recent heavy downpours and flash floods, experts predict.

Niwa has just released its climate outlook for the next three months.

Seasonal rainfall totals are expected to be below normal in areas of the east, including Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and the Wairarapa.

Combined with expected normal temperatures, this means people may start heading to the eastern beaches earlier than usual, said Niwa senior climate scientist Dr Brett Mullan.

"Late winter is still a bit early to see swimmers, but the prospect of drier weather on the way will be welcome news for many," he said.

"However, if southwesterly winds start to appear at this time, beach lovers might not be so happy as this would make things a little bit cooler on the east coast even if it is drier."

Mullan expected that the worst of the unusually heavy rain that caused chaos around the country this week was over.

"The ongoing winter weather will be a different sort of crazy from what we have been getting recently. But there should be nothing too drastic on the way until September," he said.

The warmer, drier slide into spring predicted in the eastern regions was good news for winegrowers in the area.

It would create ideal conditions for producing bumper crops of grapes, Hawke's Bay Winegrowers' Association chairman Nicholas Buck said.

"There would be a good crop of vines that would see a reasonable result come harvest time in early 2013. But although there would be a better than average yield, that's not to say there would be an associated increase in quality.

"You also have to watch it doesn't stay too dry for too long and it leads to a spring drought, which inhibits the production of green shoots in the vines," he said.

According to Niwa, Auckland will experience a normal winter, with average temperatures and normal rainfall levels.

But Mullan forecast southwesterly winds arriving next month could affect surfing at the city's popular west coast beaches.

Phil Wallis, founder of Piha Surf School, said a south-westerly was "a surfer's biggest enemy".

"It makes for poor conditions out on the water," Wallis said. "But we have had a couple of extremely good seasons so I would expect it to turn rotten at some point."

- Herald on Sunday

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