Weather: El Niño weather pattern isn't delivering the expected hot dry summer due to warmer ocean temperatures

The El Niño weather pattern isn't delivering the hot dry summer that was expected with warmer ocean temperatures creating unusually moist conditions.

The official arrival of El Niño was declared in September to put farmers on edge about a likely drought, as dry conditions were forecast for many farming areas such as Hawke's Bay and Northland.

But that's yet to happen. Federated Farmers president Wayne Landgord's farm in Golden Bay is still lush and green, a pleasant surprise that he said many farmers are grateful for.

"The farmers are really starting to wonder when El Niño is going to arrive, the forecasters have predicted it but as of yet, most of the country is in pretty good shape, apart from a few areas just starting to go dry now," he told Newshub.

That's thanks to a good mix of sunshine and moisture.

"We've had some beautiful sunny weather, then on top of that, each week we seem to be getting a bit of rain which is keeping the grass growing," Langford said.

A better situation than what was predicted in September - when El Niño's arrival here was confirmed and Hawke's Bay farmers started preparing for a drought.

But instead, it's been an unusually wet El Niño, which NIWA principal scientist of forecasting Chris Brandolino told Newshub is due to warmer ocean temperatures.

"Climate change in some ways is having an effect on ocean temperatures, which is having a flow-on effect on this flavour of El Niño," he said.

"This isn't your parents' El Niño, this is not your grandparents' El Niño, this is a different version of El Niño."

It's being felt in Australia too, they were expecting a hot dry summer and are getting anything but. Flooding in New South Wales washed away bridges on Tuesday and swept cars down rivers.

New rainfall figures show many parts of Australia had a wetter-than-average year in 2023.

"Historically there have been El Niño events that have bucked the trend in regards to rainfall and temperature, which is what we are seeing," said Sarah Scully from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

While climate change is making El Niño events more intense, it's also creating challenges for weather forecasting because previous El Niño data had cooler ocean temperatures.

"So we lack a contemporary comparison. All the comparisons when we look back at history to get a guide, they're proving to be not as useful as what they would be 20 years ago." Brandolino said.

And while the weather is expected to be fine next week, Brandolino warned that come the third week of January there'll be heavy rain from the tropics - especially for the North Island.

Which could mean a soggy end to the summer holidays, but will lower the risk of drought.

"Farmers are cautiously optimistic I guess that we may just get through this one okay," Langford said.