[14 January/ Rural News]

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Principal Forecasting Scientist, Chris Brandolino said that despite recent rain improving soil moisture, the El Nino weather pattern will still be the main climate driver for the next three months or more. Mr Brandolino explained that although El Nino is now weakening, it peaked at a very high intensity, meaning farmers should expect dry conditions for the next few months. Mr Brandolino expected the north of the North Island to be drier than normal. The rest of the North Island along with northern and eastern parts of the South Island are likely to have less rainfall than usual. Mr Brandolino also reminded farmers than soil can lose about 3 millimetres of moisture per day to the atmosphere, and added that a couple of weeks of dry weather could deteriorate soil moisture levels rapidly.