WHY THERE IS GO­ING TO BE A BAD DROUGHT THIS SUM­MER

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

The cli­mate pat­tern that brings us very hot, very dry, drought-stricken sum­mers is called El Niño. It's Span­ish for ‘the child' and orig­i­nally re­ferred to spe­cific warm winds off the coast of Peru and Ecuador, but it has taken on a wider mean­ing in cli­mate terms.

In NZ, it's short for the El Niño Southern Os­cil­la­tion, de­scrib­ing a cli­mate pat­tern which tends to bring stronger or more fre­quent west­erly sum­mer winds, typ­i­cally lead­ing to drought in east coast ar­eas and more rain in the west. In win­ter the winds tend to be chill­ier souther­lies. In spring and au­tumn, south­west­erly winds are more com­mon.

NIWA'S cli­mate ex­perts say this year's El Niño is track­ing close to the last big one of 1997-98 which trig­gered wide­spread drought and was the strong­est since 1950. It's ex­pected to ramp up over sum­mer, stay­ing with us un­til at least March 2016.

The 1997-98 El Niño event cost NZ more than $1 bil­lion in farming losses.

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