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Predictions of an early dry start to autumn

A month with only one day of significant rain and southerly winds has delivered the Gisborne district an early and dry start to autumn.

The one day of decent rain was March 11, with the heaviest falls at the top end of the region, where it was needed most.

Gisborne airport recorded 24.6mm for the month — almost all on that one day.

Heaviest falls on the 11th were at the Oweka River 74.2mm; the Karakatuwhero Bridge 55mm; and Pakihiroa 51mm. The southern Wharerata Hills also recorded a decent 68mm.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) daily climate maps show the triangle from Opotiki to East Cape down to Tokomaru Bay and across through Matawai is in greater soil moisture deficit than further south.

Niwa's data shows the district is drier than at the same time last year, with the soil moisture deficit running from 110mm in the south to over 130mm in the north.

March was cooler than normal by half a degree in the coastal strip from Gisborne to Tolaga Bay, and about average inland and the rest of the regio.

There were 19 days of southerly and easterly winds, and only 12 days from the warm north and westerly quarters.

Water temperatures off the beaches are down too, currently running around a degree cooler than the 20-degree average for the time of year.

Looking ahead, MetService's outlook for April is for the dry weather to continue, but with warmer temperatures, while Niwa's three-month outlook for the April-to-end-of-June period is for a return to near-average weather.

MetService expects below normal rainfall for this month.

Niwa's outlook for Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa is as follows —

Probabilities are assigned in three categories: above average, near average, and below average.

Temperatures are equally likely to be near average (45 percent chance) or above average (45 percent chance).

Rainfall totals are most likely to be near normal (45 percent chance).

Soil moisture levels and river flows are equally likely to be near normal (40 percent chance) or below normal (40 percent chance).

On the wider weather front, the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's latest overview is that the current La Nina is still with us.

However, NOAA forecasts the La Nina to transition to neutral conditions over the next three months. — RH