Warmer weather forecast to continue for the year

A warm winter in Taranaki helped to offset the damages done to farms during the drought.

Taranaki's weather in 2013 was among the warmest on record, Climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said.

Latest figures show last year's weather in the region was the third warmest ever recorded.

The average temperature for the province was more than half a degree higher than the normal 13.68 degrees Celsius.

This increase was due not only to the drought, but also to a winter that was warmer than usual, he said. "For a farming community it is good because warmer winters help the growth of pastures."

Taranaki Federated Farmers president Bronwyn Muir said the warm winter had been a great relief to farmers after the devastating effects of the drought.

"It was very much welcomed in Taranaki. We had an abundance of growth and we have been set up very well for the new season," she said.

"It is a very different kettle of fish compared to where we were 12 months ago. The growth from the warm winter is still continuing and we are all making the most of the surplus we have."

Mrs Muir said the challenge for farmers now was to manage and finance the cost of turning that extra growth into a supplement.

"Paying to get that into bales and into sheds is something farmers have to consider.

"But, it's definitely better to have heaps of grass than not enough," she said.

Taranaki's warmer weather was in line with Dr Salinger's national findings, which showed New Zealand had its second-warmest year and warmest winter since records began in 1870.

Last year the country recorded temperatures that were on average 0.84C above normal. The only year it was hotter was 1998, which was 0.89C above average.

Last year's weather was not the warmest on record for Taranaki though. Records for Taranaki began in 1904 and showed the hottest years for Taranaki were 1998 and 1999, now followed by 2013.

The New Zealand regional mean temperature for 2013 was derived from 22 land stations, and three islands.

Record annual mean temperatures were recorded in the south east of the South Island, Dr Salinger said.

Dr Salinger said the above-average temperatures were expected to continue this year and average temperatures of 0.2 to 0.6C above average were predicted.

Taranaki Daily News