Heat about to hit again
Snow, rain was only temporary respite
A light smattering of snow on Sunday night and rain on Monday has brought temporary relief to dry Wanaka and Queenstown.
The total fire ban and irrigation restrictions remain in place.
Another pattern of anticyclonic weather is forecast to begin tomorrow, replacing the south-westerly airstream responsible for the wet start to the week.
The forecast wind will quickly negate any benefits from the rain and firefighters will be back in full fire-fighting mode.
Otago Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire authority Dr Stephanie Rotarangi is advising residents to be sensible and report smoke straight away.
‘‘We have just got to take one day at a time. I do believe we are in for another tough six weeks.’’
Rain effects hydrologist Dave Stewart says the whole of Central Otago is in a drought but the conditions are typical for a region known to be the driest in the country.
The difference was that February’s drying anticyclones had arrived early in December, Stewart said.
Wanaka received a healthy dollop of rain but the nearest official rain gauge, at Wanaka Airport, recorded just 1.6mm, showing how rapidly the volume dropped as the weather moved north and east towards the centre of the South Island, Stewart said.
Despite Otago Regional Fire Authority warnings not to mow lawns, use chainsaws and set off fireworks, many grass fires have flared throughout the region, with several drawing on all the resources of volunteer brigades.
An orchard maintenance shed was completely destroyed by a suspicious fire on Saturday at Earnscleugh, and an investigation into the cause is now underway.
Last Friday, an accidental fire at Hawea Flat burned a sleep out, caravan and two other outhouse structures, scorched grass and gardens and singed houses several hundred metres away.
The fire was caused by a weedeater and was brought under control by at least 50 firefighters and the Hawea flat ‘‘bucket brigade’’.
A day before, a grass fire caused by a car doing ‘‘rarkies’’ in a paddock threatened a house on Camphill Rd. It too was contained by firefighters and locals.
Ongoing grass fires have kept the Tarras brigade on its toes and the region’s fire fighters have attended many other rural and town grass blazes since January 1.
Rotarangi said the public was showing ‘‘great community spirit’’ and should be applauded for helping.
She cautioned that while no problems had emerged so far from public assistance, it was important to follow firefighters’ instructions.