Wet start to Central Otago winter

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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

Winter is shaping up to be a good one for ducks across Central Otago.

Some parts of the district have had a wet start to the season, which was likely to be followed by a “warming trend” in the few weeks ahead, Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said.

“This will come with more westerly winds, which will also transport moisture in from the Tasman Sea,” Mr Noll said.

“August looks like a bit of a wildcard – there may be some spring-like patterns, i.e. rounds of milder temperatures, but the chance of a few active fronts in the South Island.”

However, the winter woollies could still be needed going into September.

” .. September may turn out to be quite a chilly month, maybe a step back compared to August.”

He said, overall, the season was expected to have above average temperatures, along with “near normal precipitation”.

Barrie Wills, who has been monitoring vegetation at Moutere and Earnscleugh stations, said the wet weather had contributed to a “fantastic season in regards to growth”.

That growth meant some farmers had been able to keep their stock on the flatland, instead of sending them into the hill country, he said.

“There’s just been so much growth on the flats.

“It’s been a real catch-up season.”

Although that growth was good for now, it would increase the risk of fire in the coming months.

“When I look back to 2017-18 . we had a real drought. [The native plants] were just bare, completely bare. This past season, with the additional rain, for whatever reason, it’s been phenomenal,” he said.

In particular, native tussocks are doing “very well”.

Dr Wills, who was also involved in curling, said although the rain had caused some interruptions to the Macrae tournament over recent weeks, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

“In terms of curling, it’s been nothing overly abnormal. We’ve had previous years .. [when we have had] snow storms or rain that puts us off, so nothing out of the ordinary.”

Central Otago District Council parks and reserves manager Gordon Bailey said although it had been a wet season, playing fields had fared well thanks to good drainage.

In some cases, the fields were built on quick draining soils, which had helped limit the impact – to the extent the council had not closed any of its fields due to wet conditions so far this season.

However, Mr Bailey said some clubs might have opted not to use their fields at certain times.

“Our clubs are very supportive in ensuring grounds aren’t overused in wet conditions.”

The council had an “extensive” renovation programme across all its sports grounds, which aimed to ensure they did not need to be closed due to wet weather, he said.