by Emma Perry
If you thought it was a rainier› than›normal November in Timaru, you would be correct.
The city received 153% of its average rainfall, making for a very wet month.
Despite that, it is expected the next three months in the region will be drier than usual as the La Nina climate system makes itself felt across the country.
Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said Timaru experienced 72mm of rain last month compared with the normal November average of 47mm.
‘‘That’s a large increase.’’
Mr Noll said the heavier rainfall, measured at its Timaru climate station, could be attributed to more low› pressure systems moving through the region.
‘‘A couple of times through the month [November] Timaru was the recipient of some of those rain bands coming from the Pacific.’’
More easterly, moist winds were a hallmark feature of La Nina.
Caused by a build›up of cooler than normal waters in the tropical Pacific, La Nina traditionally brought warmth everywhere in New Zealand over summer, but with stark differences in regional weather patterns.
As more northeasterly winds arrived, drier conditions tended to dominate the south and southeast of the South Island. South Cantabrians may have to watch their water use, as it appears some hot, dry days are ahead.
Mr Noll said this summer could be warmer than normal for much of the country, including South Canterbury.
‘‘The warmth it will bring will likely be remembered.’’ The region could experience extended dry spells, he said. Niwa’s short›term forecast predicted dry weather for Timaru. ‘‘We can already see that soil moisture levels, even with good rainfall, are lagging behind. ‘‘Should that continue, we would become concerned.’’ In its three›month forecast until the end of February, Niwa predicted near›normal or below›normal rainfall.
‘‘We are leaning towards it being drier.’’
MetService meteorologist April Clark said in the last three months Timaru had 90% of its spring average for rain, receiving 127mm in the last three months, against its historical average of 135mm.