Farmers 'won't mind a little rain' at Fieldays

GREY SKIES: Peter Numan, chairman of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, says Mystery Creek is ready for the rain
GREY SKIES: Peter Numan, chairman of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, says Mystery Creek is ready for the rain

Get set for wet and windy weather for tomorrow's opening of Fieldays.

Safety messages have been sent out by MetService, Niwa, the New Zealand Transport Agency, the Waikato Regional Council and the National Agricultural Fieldays for today and tomorrow.

Drivers travelling from Auckland or Wellington to Fieldays at Mystery Creek are urged to take extra caution as strong winds and heavy rain are set to pound the Waikato and surrounding regions until well into tomorrow.

MetService predicted between 150 and 200 millimetres of rain would fall between midday yesterday and midday tomorrow over the Coromandel Peninsula. Rainfall could reach up to 20mm in an hour and strong winds were also possible.

"With the low pressure off to the west, we are going to find ourselves stuck in a very moist northeasterly feed of air," MetService meteorologist John Law said.

"It will be areas exposed to that northeasterly flow that bear the brunt of the rainfall."

The forecast prompted warnings from Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (Waikato CDEM) and the flood management team.

Group controller Lee Hazlewood urged people to take the forecast into account with their travel plans and activities.

Fieldays Society chairman Peter Numan said spirits were high at Mystery Creek despite the impending rain.

"The mood is positive, and the rain might provide a good opportunity for people to go and see inside exhibitions."

Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder said rain would affect some outdoor exhibitors and demonstrations but he was not losing sleep over the forecast. "Naturally we are managing the weather and have been for quite some time. We are expecting some rain but we will get regular updates from Niwa so we'll be watching the weather pattern as it shifts," Calder said.

"We're feeling OK. Safety is our number one priority, so the biggest thing is making sure visitors are comfortable and safe."

Fieldays opens tomorrow and runs until Saturday. Last year, more than 125,000 visitors attended over the four days, about 31,000 each day on average.

While many exhibition areas are indoors, events like the Suzuki extreme air demonstration, tractor pull, fencing championships and the Waikato rescue helicopter winching demonstration all take place outdoors.

"We will just take it on a case by case basis. As long as there's no torrential downpour, the show must go on."

Calder said he was confident the weather would improve by Friday - traditionally the day town folk attend.

Farmers, who normally attend earlier in the week, tended not to mind a little rain, Calder said.

"Farmers don't stop working on their farms when it rains."

He said outdoor exhibitors in marquees would be closely monitored and safety standards had been carefully adhered to on tent sites.

Meteorologist and forecaster Chris Brandolino will present hourly weather forecasts from Niwa's (National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research) television studio in the main pavilion at Mystery Creek during Fieldays.

Brandolino was predicting a wet start to the event but forecast the rain would shift away from Mystery Creek during the day.

"I'm predicting 25 per cent, at most half, of Fieldays having rain.

"People going on Wednesday and Thursday should definitely take gumboots and umbrellas."

Brandolino said temperatures should remain mild, and predicted highs of between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.

MetService has predicted rain for most of the North Island with severe gales possible in Auckland and other parts of the upper North Island, including the Western Bay of Plenty.

In the 48 hours from 6pm yesterday until 6pm tomorrow expect 150 to 200mm on the Kaimai Range, with 100 to 150mm elsewhere, MetService said.

Waikato Times