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Slight relief for some farmers

The New Zealand Drought Index map from December 29. PHOTO/NIWA


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Christmas week bought a special gift for some rural Wairarapa communities – water in the rain gages.

While most of the rain fell across eastern areas of the region, and about the Tararua Ranges, some parts of Wairarapa are still desperate for a top up.

Sections of Wairarapa had emerged from the ‘meterological severe drought’ leaving most of the region classified as ‘very dry’ and ‘extremely dry’, according to the New Zealand Drought Index updated last weekend.

Most of the region was classified in ‘meterological severe drought’, only a week before Christmas.

From Christmas Day through to New Year’s Eve, Masterton recorded 23.6mm of rain, Castlepoint 64.2mm and Martinborough only 10mm.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman William Beetham said his Wainuioru property was typically very dry at this time of year, but the rain over recent weeks have left soils in a “good space”.

Mr Beetham said cooler weather has taken the pressure of stock water systems.

In early December, Mr Beetham spoke about his concern the dry weather would have on farmers if the heat stuck around into the New Year.

However, he was relieved to say yesterday that recent rain had helped many farmers along – even if it was just for a couple of weeks.

But many farmers who lucked out on any decent rain were still struggling, he said.

Mr Beetham measured about 25mm of rain last week.

“What it did, the rain came through and has given us a couple of extra weeks, but we certainly need another good rain,” he said.

Even if the region was to see another dry period, similar to the beginning of December, most farmers were in a better state now compared to early last month, he said.

The forecast for the rest of the week has Mr Beetham feeling more positive.

Rain over the past two weeks has topped up many catchments.

Six out of the 11 Wairarapa catchments have restrictions in place — three less than two weeks ago, according to Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The first 10 days of December saw high temperatures reaching an average of 28.3degrees Celsius in Masterton, and no rain.

This was due to a high-pressure system which delivered stable weather for Wairarapa, Metservice meteorologist April Clark said.

“The start of the month was clearer, whereas that broke down later in the month, and had more like spring time weather,” she said.

Then the high moved off, allowing front to push over, and unpredictable weather was a result, she said.

These weather patterns are typical of the La Nina weather system.

More north–easterly winds are characteristic, which bring moist, rainy conditions to the north east of the North Island, according to NIWA.

Mrs Clark said La Nina was quite weak this year, as it formed very late in the season.

Today through to Sunday will bring unstable weather, she said.

Masterton is expected to reach a high of 28C today, followed by 27C tomorrow and Thursday, with temperatures expected to drop over the weekend to 23C from Friday to Sunday with periods of rain expected through to Sunday.

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