Mild winter on the cards

23:27, May 03 2014

Temperatures may be slightly higher than normal for most of New Zealand this winter, with El Nino conditions ''increasingly likely'' this year.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has issued a seasonal climate outlook for the weather patterns over the next three months.

Highlights of its latest outlook include:

- For 16 consecutive months the sea has been warmer than normal

- Winter temperatures are likely to be normal or slightly higher than normal

- El Nino is coming, just not quite yet

- Despite a lot of recent rain, soil moisture levels are still well below normal in parts of the country

From May to July average temperatures were most likely for the west of the South Island and above average temperatures were expected for the east of the North Island, NIWA said. 

For the rest of the country, there was a 40 to 45 per cent chance of average or above average temperatures. But don't go ditching the winter woolies yet.

"Cold snaps and frosts can still be expected in some parts of the country as autumn advances into winter," it said.

NIWA said above normal sea surface temperatures along the equator now covered a significant part of the central and far eastern Pacific, and the warm anomalies were consistent with developing El Nino conditions.

It said 11 of the 14 models it monitored were predicting El Nino conditions in August, September and October.

For New Zealand, that usually meant stronger or more frequent winds from the west during summer.

That could lead to drought on the east coast and more rain in the west of the country.


The Press