No let-up for farmers as New Zealand dries out further

With many regions tinder-dry, a report on soil moisture shows no improvement ahead.

NIWA's weekly soil moisture report assesses severely to extremely dry conditions.

Regions experiencing these soil moisture deficits are deemed 'hotspots' with persistent hotspot regions having the potential to develop into drought.

In the latest report NIWA said soil moisture levels decreased nearly everywhere during the past week in the North Island.

"The only locations that saw slight increases were eastern Whangarei and eastern Far North districts. Soil moisture levels as of 7 February are below normal for the vast majority of the North Island, with the driest soil compared to normal for this time of year in the New Plymouth District, parts of western coastal Waikato and western Far North," it said.

The wettest soils for this time of the year are located in a portion of Hastings District where the soil moisture levels are near normal.

Areas deemed hotspots continued to expand during the past week in the North Island. 

A large hotspot now encompasses nearly all of Northland, Auckland, northern Waikato, and the Coromandel Peninsula. Additional hotspots are in place in coastal Taranaki, central and southern Manawatu-Whanganui, Wellington City and Porirua, northern Hawke's Bay along with parts of Gisborne and Bay of Plenty.

Across the South Island, NIWA said soil moisture levels decreased during the past week with meagre rainfall in the north and east. 

"The driest soils across the South Island compared to normal for this time of the year are found in western Tasman and northern Buller District, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are found in north coastal Otago and coastal Fiordland," the report said.

The previous hotspot encompassing Nelson and portions of Tasman has continued to strengthen and expand during the past week. 

In addition, new hotspots have also developed in northern Marlborough along with small parts of Ashburton and Waimate districts in Canterbury.

Meanwhile there are some showers forecast for some parts of the country in the week ahead.

Low rainfall is also expected in the South Island.


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