Hawke's Bay's dry start to the year has put it in early contention for the title of New Zealand's sunniest region.
Across four months, the region totalled 964 hours of sunshine in its main centres, Niwa's monthly climate summary for April has revealed, fourth-equal sunniest in NZ.
The sunniest regions so far in 2021 are Taranaki (1033 hours), Bay of Plenty (997 hours), Marlborough (992 hours), Horowhenua (964 hours) and Hawke's Bay (964 hours).
Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said Hawke's Bay had been drier than average and warmer than average for the month of April.
"This was down to more westerly winds than normal, which steered several unusually warm air masses toward the country during the first half of the month," he said.
"April featured lower than normal air pressure around Aotearoa New Zealand, in the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean."
In Napier, in April, the average daytime temperature was 21.4 degrees Celsius, and the average overnight low was 10C, compared with the normal Napier average temperature of 19.9C during the daytime and an overnight low of 9.9C.
For Hastings, the average daytime temperature in April was 21.9C and the average overnight low was 8.2C, the second warmest April month on record. The warmest was recorded in 1965.
The normal averages for Hastings are 19.6C and 9.3C respectively.
Noll said, at the beginning of May, soil moisture levels were in severe deficit across the eastern North Island and eastern and interior South Island, including Hawke's Bay.
"It has also been drier than normal for the region, this has been the case for the region for most of the year so far," he said.
"Hawke's Bay received an average of 16.4mm of rain in April, compared with the normal average of 67.9mm."
Noll said the warmer conditions were likely to continue and the region was unlikely to experience consistent rainy days, to the disappointment of farmers in the region.
Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway told Hawke's Bay Today earlier this week that farms in the region, while better prepared, were still desperately in need of rain.
"A lot of people have hay and silage in their sheds this year, but they might have to de-stock if we don't get rain soon. This time last year we were running low on supplements," he said.
"We've had a couple of days of frost, which means less grass growth. We require above-average rain in the vicinity of 20 to 50mm over a few days to encourage grass growth."