Dry autumn predicted for many
Farmers hoping for relief from dry ground conditions are likely to take little comfort from Niwa's climate outlook for autumn.
The top of the country is worst off for soil moisture. Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, have a 55 per cent chance soil moisture will be below average for the three months from March to May, with a 30 per cent chance it will be near average.
Best off are Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa, where the chance of near-average soil moisture is put at 45 per cent, with the probability of it being below average put at 35 per cent. They also have the best chance of getting above-average rainfall, at 30 per cent, with a 50 per cent chance it will be near average.
Least likely to get above-average rainfall are the central North Island, Taranaki, Manawatu and Wellington, which have been given only a 15 per cent chance, with a 45 per cent chance it will be near average.
At the end of February soil moisture levels had remained lower than normal across much of the country, with the main exceptions being the West Coast and also eastern Northland, Niwa said.
The west of the North Island from Auckland to Wellington had received less than 40 per cent of normal February rainfall.
"Soil moisture deficits are not as extensive as those a year ago in the 2013 drought, but may be as severe as 2013 in isolated regions," Niwa said.
Soil moisture was lowest, compared to normal levels, in Waikato, Waitomo and Taupo districts.
Temperatures were most likely to be near average throughout the country for the next three months.