New Zealand is experiencing very dry weather this summer, and the North Island has been enduring the worst drought in the 71-year history of such records. This summer, there has been persistent high pressure over New Zealand and in the Tasman Sea west of New Zealand. The high pressure pushes the moisture-containing low pressures away from New Zealand’s North Island (and the northern part of South Island).
Last year, everything was green all summer long, and I thought that’s just how New Zealand is. It rained at least a little bit about half of the days last summer. But this year, it has been very dry, with almost no rain at all for the past couple months.
We did get a couple of days of rain this past weekend, but it wasn’t enough to end the drought. It was nice that I didn’t have to water the orchard or vege boxes that weekend. Our water supply comes from way upstream of the small creek that flows behind our house, which originates from a spring. Despite the record lack of rain, our little creek is still flowing, and if we don’t use the water, it simply flows into the ocean.
The hills around here, as well as the plains of the Waikato, have greened up a little from the rain, but it hasn’t made a huge impact. Because the grasses have died so much, farmers are having to buy feed for their livestock. The dairy industry is taking a huge financial hit, because farmers have had to dry up (and even, in some instances, sell) some of their herds, which means less milk.
- DairyNZ estimates that by the end of March, milk production for 2013 will have been reduced by 260 million litres – representing lost income of around $130m.
- The average Waikato dairy farmer will lose an estimated $140,000 in lost revenues and increased expense.
- The Government says total losses to the economy could reach $1 billion.
So, it’s a long, dry summer for New Zealand, especially in the North Island. Hopefully, autumn will bring rain soon.