Dry summer likely for Marlborough

00:09, Nov 18 2010

In what may become a year of extremes, Marlborough's record-breaking wet winter could turn to drought as a La Nina weather pattern encircles the upper South Island.

Hydrologists and farmers said the region could slide into drought if it does not rain in the next few weeks.

Weather Watch chief analyst Philip Duncan said a typical La Nina weather pattern had brought drying winds to the upper and western areas of the South Island, a pattern he said would likely continue over summer.

"The only thing in our favour is the increased risk of subtropical fronts sliding down the west coast."

Plant&Food Research Marlborough scientist Rob Agnew said the recorded highs of 27 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and 32C on Saturday were fairly typical for the region this time of year.

"Once we get into mid to late November we get occasional quite hot days."

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Those hot days were interspersed with some cool days – including a low of minus 0.6C on November 7.

Generally, frosts occurred one November in three, the last being 2006 and before that 2002 and 2003, with a very late frost on November 18 in 2003.

Mr Agnew could not say if there would be more frosts this spring.

"Because of the climate we live in, there's always the potential but you can't really predict that more than a few days in advance."

More cool days were likely, with temperatures fit for the beach probably coming once every three days, he said.

"We always still have a few cold days, even into December."

The MetService forecast high for today was 25C, with the same tomorrow. The weekend would be cooler, with a high of 21C on both Saturday and Sunday, followed by a chilly 17C on Monday.

The Marlborough Express