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Drought check

Drought check

Updated 18 February 2019 4:04pm

Current Situation

13 Feb 2019

 Atmospheric circulation has been gearing towards drier conditions and there is potential for this to continue, and escalate, over the next few weeks across the region. Since Christmas, weather patterns have changed to a predominant anticyclonic flow to the west of New Zealand, pushing more westerlies our way. The sea surface temperatures over the Tasman Sea have been significantly warmer than average, creating a marine heat wave for the second consecutive summer. At the same time, westerlies have caused localised upwelling of colder subsurface waters on the Kapiti coast, contributing to stable and dry conditions over the region. The Equatorial Pacific remains very close to El Niño threshold, and so is also potentially contributing towards dry conditions.  As seen on the first link below, the latest national drought index is showing very dry conditions on the Kapiti coast, and normal to dry around the Wairarapa. The extended weather forecast suggests that the second half of the month will likely continue to be dry. However, there has been tropical cyclone activity over the Pacific Islands and there is a slim to moderate chance that the region might be influenced by an incoming ex-TC by the end of the month.    


Cumulative rainfall totals and soil moisture levels for the summer to date have been relatively high compared with recent years. However, the current dry spell and lack of imminent rainfall, has the potential to induce water stress across the region in coming weeks.  Rivers are now falling below minimum flow thresholds and water use restrictions are becoming widespread.


For the latest national drought index state, please visit: (  

Browse the data

Anomaly Maps

How different has recent rainfall/soil moisture been compared with the same time in previous years?

Click on the links below to see the relevant anomaly map

Site-specific graphs

Cumulative rainfall/soil moisture totals for indicator sites compared with historical averages and other recent years

Area Rainfall Soil Moisture
Kapiti Coast (lowland) Otaki at Depot  
Kapiti Coast (high altitude) Penn Creek at McIntosh  
Porirua Horokiri Stream at Battle Hill
Wellington City Kaiwharawhara Stream at Karori Reservoir  
Hutt Valley (upper catchment) Hutt River at Kaitoke Headworks  
Upper Hutt Upper Hutt at Savage Park Upper Hutt at Savage Park AQ
Wainuiomata Wanuiomata River at Wainui Reservoir  
Wairarapa (high altitude) Waingawa River at Angle Knob  
Wairarapa Valley (north) Kopuaranga River at Mauriceville  
Wairarapa Valley (Masterton) Ruamahanga River at Wairarapa College Wairarapa College AQ
Wairarapa Valley (south) Tauherenikau River at Racecourse Tauherenikau River at Racecourse
Wairarapa (north-eastern hills) Whareama River at Tanawa Hut Whareama River at Tanawa Hut
Wairarapa (south-eastern hills) Waikoukou at Longbush Waikoukou at Longbush