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NZ Govt asks for help as droughts declared

As our dry summer continues to stretch on the New Zealand Government, via the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has formally asked for help with rain forecasting as droughts are declared.

Yesterday MPI declared medium-scale drought events for Canterbury, Marlborough and North Otago and Wairarapa is being closely monitored.

What does a ‘drought’ mean? – Rural News explains

MPI approached two weeks ago and asked if we could provide detailed rain forecasts, region by region, week by week, for the areas most desperate for rain – Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough and Wairarapa.

The New Zealand Government already owns not one but two forecasters – but over the years has developed a reputation for being more detailed with rain forecasts.

“During a drought it’s critical not to be using the word “rain” all the time unless you’re very confident it will arrive and not give false hope.  We go extra steps to do this and Fonterra and MPI have noticed” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.

In 2013 MPI hired for the first time ever, for drought reporting during that historic drought event.

“Through our regular work on rural channel CountryTV and via our website we are hearing daily from farmers and growers across New Zealand and we are doing our best to give them the most accurate possible forecasts that give some silver linings to the dry clouds but also avoid unnesssary false hope. It’s a very, very, tough tight rope to walk”.

Mr Duncan says part of their work is clarifying other forecasters who freqently over predict rain. “Many apps and even some NZ forecasters tend to over predict rain – this may be fine if you’re trying to paint a fence and don’t want a few spits of rain on it, but not if youre desperately needing rain to keep your farm business running – a few spits isn’t considered ‘rain’ to them”. believes in sharing as much data as possible – and we’ll endeavour to share as much info as we can with the public via our RainWatch news products.

Our latest long range rain forecast, for the rest of February, says there may be some showery and drizzly moments for dry eastern areas over the next few days – but the long term forecast for the rest of February does, sadly, look much drier rather than wetter. 

There is a chance of some rain sliding south down the east coast in the final days of the month – but it may not affect the South Island.

How to deal with drought conditions – support networks, advice, other info from MPI




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