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WATERCARE FIASCO


DROUGHT RETURNS TO NEW ZEALAND
 
After October rains had eased northern New Zealand's severe drought, seven weeks of very little rainfall in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, the east of the North Island, coastal Marlborough and eastern Canterbury has seen the drought reappear. December totals in Northland and Whakatane were lowest recorded. The National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA), notes that the onset of drought has occurred "particularly early."

("Drought now affecting the north and east," NIWA Press Release, 21 December 1994; "National Climate Summary - 1994," NIWA, 9 January 1995).

 Note: In their 1994 climate summary, NIWA state that "1994 was an extreme year for climate in New Zealand." In the eastern Northland and Hawke's Bay, 1994 was the driest year since records began late last century and it was also generally warmer than in 1992 and 1993. Both of these years were cold in New Zealand, the result of El Nino (which brings cold weather to New Zealand) and the eruption of Mt Pinatubo, however by 1994 the effects of the volcano had almost worn off, resulting in the warmer weather. NIWA's Jim Salinger notes that, "The El Nino pattern was one of the main reasons for last years' climate extremes. However, it must be remembered there are many factors that can cause our climate to vary." The year also recorded more frequent - the most since 1917 - westerly and south westerly winds.

Highlights included:

 - Driest year on record in the northern and eastern regions of the North Island.
 - Very wet in the far south. Queenstown's rainfall was the second highest since 1872.
 - Extremely sunny across the entire country, except the South Island's West Coast. Auckland recorded its sunniest year since records began (1959), as did Napier (1930) and Wellington (1928).
 - January was "extremely" wet. Colliers Creek recorded the second highest monthly rainfall ever measured in New Zealand (2,600mm).
 - Severe hailstorms in south Canterbury, Nelson and Hawke's Bay in late February and early March. Severe surface flooding also hit south Canterbury mid-March.
 - Very cold June in Auckland, with some of the lowest June temperatures ever recorded.
 - Driest August on record in the east. Lincoln, Canterbury rainfall was the lowest since 1881 and Kaikoura's the lowest since 1949. November was also Kaikoura's second driest November rainfall on record.
 - November precipitation at Mt Cook and Milford Sound was the highest recorded. November also recorded the strongest westerly winds in the 45 years or record.
 - The eastern regions suffered under heatwaves in early December.
 - High temperatures caused rail tracks to buckle along the north Canterbury line.
("National Climate Summary - 1994," NCWA, 9 January 1995.)

GREENPEACE Climate Impacts Database 


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