[2 December/ Rural News]

According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, current El Nino conditions are on track to be at the same level as the 1997/98 event, which was the strongest since 1950. NIWA Climate Scientist, Petra Chappell said rainfall is forecasted to be below normal for the next three months. Ms Chappell recommended that farmers have action plans specific to their locations. Ms Chappell added that most of the country was dry during October, while the west of the South Island was wet. November was much drier across the country in terms of soil moisture, with soils rapidly drying out in the last few months. Ms Chappell said that while most of the country is expected to be dry, El Nino events do have rainfall anomalies which means it could behave differently than one’s before. NIWA Principal Forecasting Scientist, Chris Brandolino said dry conditions could be accentuated during December through to February.