If you've been lapping up the Bay of Plenty heat in recent days, brace yourself for plenty more to come.

Niwa has released its Seasonal Climate Outlook, which assesses the likely weather expected over the next three months and its Annual Climate Summary for 2018.

Niwa's principal scientist - forecasting, Chris Brandolino, said above-average temperatures was the most likely outcome for the Bay of Plenty.

There was also either a near normal or below normal chance of receiving an average amount of rain, he said.

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"If there's going to be below normal rainfall, that's most likely going to be in the upper North Island, which includes the Bay of Plenty."

Brandolino said the three-month prediction was an overall forecast which did not dissect individual months, so it was important to note the forecast did not rule out rainfall events.

"You can still get some significant rainfall, say an ex-tropical cyclone in March for example, but January and February might have been especially dry."

Warmer sea temperatures were a key factor in the outlook, Brandolino said.

"Our ocean temperature is a large influence on what happens and they are unusually warm, not only in the immediate coastal areas but out to the west, and out to the east as well. That's what will give us a higher chance of higher air temperatures."

The warm, dry spell follows a year of above-normal rainfall in the Bay of Plenty.

Niwa's Annual Climate Summary, released yesterday, showed that in addition to the wet weather, the Bay also experienced above-average temperatures in 2018.

The Bay of Plenty recorded the second-highest annual sunshine hours (2518) for the year, following Nelson (2555) which had the nation's most. Marlborough had the third highest number of hours (2503).

Nationally, the average temperature for 2018 was 13.4C, making the year the second warmest on record, along with 1998. It placed behind 2016 which had a nationwide average temperature of 13.45C.

Looking ahead

Today - Cloudy with possible showers from late morning, high of 24C
Tomorrow - Cloud increasing, with possible showers, high 25C
Friday - Cloudy periods, westerly breezes, high 28C
Saturday - Cloudy periods, a few showers from the afternoon, high 25C
Source - Metservice