The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has officially declared the arrival of El Niño in New Zealand. This weather pattern typically brings dry conditions to the east and increased rainfall to the west of the country. Over the next three months, New Zealand can expect dramatic temperature swings, with periods of unseasonable warmth followed by cold southerly winds.
The North and East of the North Island are likely to experience below-normal rainfall, while the West of the South Island is expected to see above-normal rainfall. Stronger than usual winds are anticipated, with more westerly winds leading to dry spells in the north and east of both islands. There will also be occasional heavy rainfall and a risk of flooding in the western and lower South Island.
NIWA has noted that the fire risk will be higher than in previous years, particularly as the dry period continues closer to Christmas. Marine heatwaves are expected to be less persistent and widespread. The chances of El Niño continuing through October-December are around 100%, with over a 95% chance it will persist through the summer.
This declaration has implications for various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, and firefighting, as they will need to prepare for the challenges posed by El Niño-induced weather patterns.