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Rainfall welcomed by farmers

Flooding at Bennetts Hill just outside Masterton last month. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Christmas Day was the wettest day

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Christmas Day shaped up to be the wettest day this month, but that’s nothing to complain about as far as the region’s farmers are concerned.

This month’s severe weather warnings and flash floods are a far cry from this time last year when Central Wairarapa was already considered to be in “severe drought” – the most extreme level of drought.

The classification was based on soil moisture, and the rural community’s capacity to cope.

Former Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon said this month could not be any more different to December last year.

“Just look up at the Wairarapa hills – they’re all green which is pretty unusual.”

November and December 2018 had several severe storms causing flash flooding and road closures, including a thunderstorm which was suspected to have killed eight dairy cows in one evening.

There was extensive flooding forcing Dalefield School in Carterton to close for a day and property was damaged at Gladstone School.

There was also a rare weather event at the start of the month which caused damage to roads and farms in Featherston, in what one resident referred to as the worst torrential downpour they had seen in 80 years.

According to a MetService spokesperson, Wairarapa has now received more rainfall in 2018 than in 2017, despite tracking below last year’s rainfall amount before November.

MetService recorded 115.2mm of rainfall in Masterton for the month of December 2018.

The wettest day was Christmas Day with 27.8mm.

Falloon said he had been tracking the rainfall at his Bideford farm through a private weather station which recorded 4mm of rain on Wednesday afternoon.

“Last year there was no El Nino forecast and it got really hot and dry and everyone was worried,” he said.

“This year we got the forecast and all it has done is rain since November.

“It brings its own challenges especially for sheep farmers with getting stock weaned but it’s a pretty good position to be in.”

A private weather station in Gladstone recorded 14mm of rain for Christmas Day and 139.5mm for the month of December.

Wairarapa and Wellington continued to bear the brunt of the wet weather front Wednesday which forced flights to be cancelled and delayed at Wellington Airport after fog settled on the capital overnight Tuesday.

The region’s rain was expected to slowly ease off throughout yesterday, but the changing direction of the weather system means moisture will be pushed towards Wairarapa.

The slow improvement will continue towards the weekend with a chance of some isolated showers to be expected.

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