Ski fields didn’t have as much snow as they’d like last year and it wasn’t just the ski season that was affected.
Less snow on the mountains meant less snow melt to feed rivers and underground aquifers.
That combined with drought over summer and into autumn to put a lot of farms under severe pressure.
Good dumpings of snow a couple of weeks ago and the follow up in the last two days is good for ski fields, aquifers, rivers and farming.
But it’s not all good news. Met Service is forecasting the return of El Niño that could dent agricultural production:
. . .The El Nino weather pattern that meteorological forecasters are predicting this year is likely to reduce New Zealand’s agricultural output, based on historic data, economists at Bank of New Zealand say.
Historic data compiled by BNZ suggests a positive co-relation between New Zealand’s agricultural growth and the Southern Oscillation Index, a standardised index of sea level pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin that is used to determine whether El Nino or La Nina is present.
The index dropped below 15 in May, a level that indicates the coming of El Nino. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirmed this month that the Pacific Ocean has officially entered into an El Nino pattern that has a 70 percent chance to last through the southern winter and spring.
El Nino typically increases the likelihood of drought in the east of New Zealand as a result of the strong frequent winds it brings from the west and south west, BNZ said. . .
Winters are supposed to be cold but cold weather continuing into spring holds back growth and a continuation of drought will hit farms and those who depend on them hard.
Most farms and businesses can get through one season of drought but a second one or a continuation of the first puts even the best under a lot of pressure.
Remind me again why daylight saving starts at the end of September?
The Met Service warned of a wintry blast and they were right:
On the Pigroot road just inland from Palmerston. It’s snowing.
Cantabrians are enduring a spring cold snap with snow blanketing parts of the South Island.
Heavy rain pelted much of the region yesterday with higher areas hit by flurries of snow that settled in some places. . .
And Met Service:
It’s not unusual to get this worth of wild weather in October.
If winter’s here it’s too soon to put the clocks forward.
Members of the Pastoral management Group, to which we belong, shared experiences of June’s snow storms.
Everyone paid tribute to warnings from the Met Service which allowed stock to be moved and preparations made, both of which minimised the damage done.
Met Service has been equally accurate with its forecasts for the last few days. Thanks to that farmers and orchardists were able to prepare for the polar blast which reminded us yet again that the weather doesn’t observe the calendar.
August was mild but we’ve had a cold start to September about which Met Service warned us. I can see fresh snow on the Kakanui Range from my kitchen window and the temperatures are more wintry than spring-like.
Weather forecasting is not an exact science and we only ever know if forecasts are right after the event.
We’re quick to complain when they get it wrong but on these two occasions, Met Service was right when it mattered and their forecasts made a difference.
Scoop reports the top 10 New Zealand rural websites for domestic traffic from Nielsen NZ Market Intelligence in September:
1. metservice.co.nz/rural 70, 683.
2. stuff.co.nz/farming 38,805.
3. rd1.com 13,125.
4. farmtrader.co.nz 11,504.
5. dealsonwheels.co.nz 8,927.
6. country-wide.co.nz 4,772.
7. ruraltrader.co.nz 3,276.
8. agridata.co.nz 3,216.
9. nzfarmersweekly.co.nz 2,686.
10. ruralliving.co.nz 1,707.
It doesn’t surprise me that the Met Service is so popular. When you work outside and so much you do is affected by the weather forecasts are very important. I helped one of our staff set up a new laptop recently and he has the Met Service site as his homepage.
Stuff includes most of the provinical papers and has good rural news and features.
Countrywide and NZ Farmers Weekly are the most highly regarded of the give away papers which turn up in rural mail boxes. The popularity of the papers and dial up or slow broad band for internet conncetion might explain why their websites don’t get more hits.