Hawke’s Bay may be in for some slightly cooler weather today but don’t expect it to last.
Metservice reports that temperatures will drop on average across the region by about five degrees, with a southerly change bringing a few showers through this morning.
“[This will be followed by] some heavy rain with possible hail and thunderstorms about the ranges in the afternoon, clearing in the evening,” a Metservice spokesperson says.
These cooler temperatures come off the back of the weather bomb that has been lashing the southern parts of the country.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, NIWA, meteorologist Ben Noll says the intense low pressure system that developed in the Tasman sea on Wednesday had become as strong as a Category 2 tropical cyclone by 8am yesterday.
“At that time the pressure at the centre of the storm was estimated at 967 millibars,” he says.
“Overall it was an unusual, but not unheard of, pattern of weather for mid-summer.”
Noll says in the storm’s wake, very chilly southwest winds are expected to spread up the country and be in place by this morning.
“Some beneficial rain is possible across the North Island, particularly in those locations that are experiencing very to extremely drier than normal soils,” he says.
“This relief will be short-lived, as mostly dry conditions are expected to return to the driest locations next week, Auckland, Northland, Hawke’s Bay, and Gisborne.”
Noll says some snow was even expected to fall across the Southern Alps.
“Spotty showers are forecast across the country [today] as an autumn-like day unfolds,” he says.
“After that, another potent storm is on the cards for late Saturday into Sunday.
“Some very heavy falls of rain are possible in similar locations that received heavy rain from the first storm.”
Looking to soil moisture, NIWA has determined Hawke’s Bay dirt is so dry it is now a hotspot, one persistent enough that the region may be drought declared in the near future.
A spokesperson for the Institute says soil moisture levels have continued to decrease in most locations across the North Island during the past week.
“The most substantial decreases were observed in the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and eastern Manawatu-Wanganui,” they say.
“Hotspots are in place across large portions of the North Island, including all of Northland and Auckland, northern and southern Waikato, including the Coromandel Peninsula, and the entire east coast from Gisborne south to Wairarapa.
“Soils in these areas are extremely drier than normal.”
The spokesperson says that showers forecast for today will deliver modest rainfall amounts.
“Additional light showers will produce minor accumulations today in central and eastern areas,” they say.
“After dry conditions on Saturday, the most significant rain in recent weeks will arrive on Sunday, unfortunately [though], only 10 mm or less is expected along the east coast.
“Dry weather is anticipated early next week before scattered showers could deliver a few millimetres on Wednesday, January 25.”
The spokesperson says that with the expected rainfall during the next week, soil moisture levels may slightly increase in the central and western parts of the North Island.
“This may slightly improve the hotspots in southern Waikato and South Taranaki.
“However, soil moisture levels may continue to decrease in Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, while more significant decreases are expected along the east coast.
“This will lead to a further strengthening of the hotspots in these areas.”
As a result of the predominantly hot dry weather the region has been experiencing of late, a total fire ban has been enforced across the Bay and the Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay districts are on water restrictions.
Eastern District Police are warning with the wind blowing and much of the [Eastern] district [including Gisborne] tinder dry, it's a timely reminder to take care to prevent fires.
“Environmental factors are off the charts of 'extreme' - particularly in Hawke's Bay,” a police spokesperson says.
“Make sure you follow the rules and regulations set by your local councils, and do your best to prevent any fire either starting or spreading.
“If you see any fire you're concerned about, call 111 immediately with as much detail as possible, including who or what else might be in the area at the time.”