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Soil moisture levels dipping below typical levels – time to plan

Drought app Red

Soil moisture levels, which remained high for a long time after Cyclone Gabrielle, are now dipping below typical levels for this time of year.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Acting Manager Science, Dr Kathleen Kozyniak says: “July brought less rainfall than usual for some parts of the region and August was very dry for all areas, receiving less than 50 percent of average rainfall for the month. We are halfway through September and we’ve had less than five percent of the average September total.”

“We’ve been highlighting in our monthly reporting that our lengthy run of wet weather would turn to drier than usual weather as the year progressed, and that winds would switch from easterlies to westerlies.” 

“That decline in soil moisture will only accelerate under a weather pattern dominated by westerly winds, which often bring reduced rainfall to the Bay,” says Dr Kathleen Kozyniak.

As reported by NIWA the predicted El Niño event occurring in our spring and summer. and another climate circulation pattern, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, indicates a dry summer is on its way, she says.

Regional Council Rural Recovery Manager Richard Wakelin is encouraging farmers to start planning for extremely dry conditions.

“We encourage farmers to start talking with their advisors about preparing for dry conditions,” says Mr Wakelin.

He encourages farmers to use the Regional Council’s drought app, to prepare and plan for dry conditions.

“The Drought Indicator tool recommends clear actions for farmers to take according to level of risk.  It provides very useful information to allow necessary planning to occur. People can access the app on the Regional Council’s drought resilience hub and save as an app on a smartphone.”



14 September 2023

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