Formal end to drought still a month away

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 14:59 12/04/2013
Drought
FAIRFAX NZ

Dry as: A formal end to the drought gripping the Manawatu region is at least a month away.

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A formal end to the drought gripping the Manawatu region is at least a month away, even with heavy rain forecast to fall in the next week, the Government says.

The entire North Island and West Coast of the South Island is currently classified as being in drought, with the status of individual regions to be reviewed in May.

It's understood the review is likely to result in the blanket drought over the North Island being lifted, and replaced by region-specific pockets of drought.

Recent rain has meant the lower North Island is particularly likely to be under the microscope, a government source confirmed.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said that even if the drought was officially declared over in Manawatu, support packages enabled by the drought would remain in place until September.

He said the region was now almost in a state of "green drought" - where the land looks green but the grass is still not growing fast enough.

Recent rain was positive, but more was still needed to break it, Guy said.

"It's important that we get good follow-up rain before the colder winter weather settles in.

"Most parts of New Zealand still need 100ml of rain to get back anywhere near normal levels."

The weather forecast for the next week is positive for farmers in the region. 

Showery spits and spots will fall across Manawatu for much of the weekend, with decent dollops of drought-dampening rain coming next week.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the weather gods were coming together over the Tasman Sea and should bring enough rain for "people to put a stick in the ground and see it's fallen". 

A sub-tropical low brewing over Queensland was set to dump heavy rain over Manawatu on Monday and Tuesday.  

There would be a brief reprieve on Wednesday followed by a southerly change on Thursday that would also bring significant rain, Corbett said.

Winds were likely to be strong throughout, but temperatures would remain in the early 20s, with most of the cold air reserved for the South Island.

Corbett said the front currently lingering over the country would flick patchy showers over Manawatu today and tomorrow.

"You'll be getting a few spits and spots but this front has a little bit of a wiggle on it. Tomorrow it'll kind of stall and sit in place and you will probably get a few more patches of rain as a result."

He recommended people plan their outdoor activities for Sunday, which would be cloudy, but dry throughout.

The wet April weather was occurring because the "anti-cyclones on testosterone" had finally started to lose their energy, Corbett said.

He expected the weather to follow normal trends for the rest of the month.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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