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Average rainfall for autumn

The third driest February on record killed off the grass in Masterton’s town square. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Masterton was on track to have its third driest February since weather recording began in 1926.

Metservice recorded 29.3 degrees Celsius at Hood Aerodrome on Thursday and 29.9 degrees Celsius on Friday.

But the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research March to May, autumn report, predicts Wairarapa will receive about “average rainfall”. Autumn, which started on Saturday, is also expected to have periods of summer-like warmth and humidity.

On publishing the report, NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino pointed out that “average rainfall” doesn’t mean the rain will be spread across the three months in a normal way.

“Rain could come as a huge amount for a short time and, one of the months could have less than average rainfall,” Brandolino said.

“Wairarapa will experience a warm autumn overall but rainfall will move from its dry summer pattern towards a more normal rainfall pattern for autumn.”

New Zealand’s air temperatures are expected to be pushed in a warmer direction by above average sea surface temperatures near the North Island and in the Tasman Sea over the upcoming three months.

Temperatures are likely to be above average in the North Island.

“When these climate drivers are active, northerly quarter air flows could bring an increase in humidity, moisture, and rainfall and this could occur in March,” Brandolino said.

Ben Noll, presenting the report on the NIWA Facebook page, said above average temperatures mean hot nights remain for March.

“It could still be hard to get to sleep on hot March nights as it is now,” Noll said.

“Going to the beach in March is a good plan as it is looking to be a bit warmer than usual. The odds look good for holiday makers.”

The pair said significant rainfall, damaging winds, and coastal damage can occur if an ex-tropical cyclone passes near the country during these months.

Twenty-four locations around the country are tracking for a record or near record dry February, while six locations are heading for their wettest February ever.

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