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Monday, February 26, 2024
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Wairarapa remains a ‘hotspot zone’

Wairarapa continues to be categorised as a ‘hotspot zone’ because of little rainfall, resulting in “severely drier than normal” soil due to a moisture deficit.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research [NIWA] reports that hotspots in Wairarapa could strengthen next week, with the potential to develop into drought if persistent.

NIWA’s current Hotspot Watch reported that the majority of the North Island saw rainfall totals of 15–25mm this week, with smaller pockets of 25-50mm.

But the lower east coast received 5mm or less, which meant there were small to moderate soil moisture decreases in central North Island.

Castlepoint Station owner Anders Crofoot, who is also part of the Castlepoint Fire Brigade, observed that if the lack of rain continues as forecast, it’s going to only get worse as the region gets drier.

“As we dry out, the fire risk goes up, he said, adding that “we’ve been lucky out at the coast in that we haven’t had any fires”.

“Around Wairarapa, there have been plenty of small fires that, so far, they have been fortunately getting on top of reasonably quickly.

“The big thing is just being aware there is a high fire risk, and just not doing things that cause fires.”

Crofoot encouraged people to avoid starting uncontained fires and, if farmers need to top paddocks, do so early in the morning with cool temperatures.

Also, if anyone needs to weld outside, he said, make sure you have a reasonably big fire extinguisher nearby.

“The fire risk is probably increasing, so that’s something that people should be vigilant about.”

Take care to avoid starting a fire and if you see smoke, call the fire emergency line by dialling 111, he said.

The New Zealand Drought Index [NZDI] showed abnormally dry conditions in parts of much of the lower North Island which included up North and parts of the South Island.

Very dry to extremely dry conditions were found in Wellington, southern Manawatū-Whanganui, and some parts of the South Island, alongside small areas of meteorological drought.

Afternoon showers and isolated thunderstorms are predicted to impact most of upper and central North Island today, with isolated showers possible tomorrow.

However, NIWA predicts a large area of high pressure will arrive and bring multiple days of dry weather early next week.

Next week, the expected rainfall may mean a decrease in moderate soil moisture for much of the North Island, with a minor change expected in central regions.

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