Percentage of normal rainfall for August 2017 Departure from average air temperature for August 2017

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1 New Zealand Climate Update No 219, August 2017 Current climate August 2017 Overall, mean sea level pressure was lower than normal over and to the west of New Zealand during August while higher than normal mean sea level pressure occurred offshore to the east. These pressure patterns resulted in more northerly wind flows across the country, resulting in warmer than average temperatures for the time of year. Several isolated storm events brought large amounts of rain to parts of the country resulting in flooding, most notably around Christchurch and New Plymouth. Percentage of normal rainfall for August 2017 Departure from average air temperature for August 2017 End of month water balance in the pasture root zone for an average soil type where the available water capacity is taken to be 150 mm.

2 Rainfall: Well above normal rainfall (> 149%) in central and western areas of the North Island, with below normal rainfall (50-79%) for the east. In the South Island, rainfall was well below normal (< 50%) in eastern Otago and Southland, but above normal ( %) in Fiordland, central parts of the West Coast and Canterbury, and to the very north. Temperature: Third-warmest August on record. Above average (+0.51 C to C) to well above average (> C) temperatures for almost the entire country. Sunshine: Sunshine hours were near normal (90-109%) or above normal ( %) for much of the country. Below normal sunshine (75-89%) occurred in central and southern parts of the North Island, and the very northern portion of the South Island Soil Moisture: As at 1 September 2017, soil moisture levels were near normal for virtually the entire country. Soil moisture was slightly higher than normal in Kaikoura through western Marlborough, as well as north of Dunedin through to Oamaru.

3 Global setting: August 2017 ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) neutral conditions were still present in the tropical Pacific during August However, like July, several oceanic and atmospheric patterns, such as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and decreasing sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific, leaned toward La Niña. The latest weekly seasurface and ocean subsurface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are slightly below normal (i.e. on the La Niña side of neutral). The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is currently positive (+0.4, i.e. on the La Niña side of neutral) and large-scale circulation anomalies along the equator are consistent with patterns usually associated with a La Niña state. On the other hand, La Niña-like rainfall and convection anomalies in the west Pacific were not as strong in August as they were in July. International guidance favours a persistence of ENSO neutral conditions over the next three-month period (65% chance for September November 2017). While ENSO-neutral conditions remain the most likely outcome through the end of 2017, recent observations indicate that the ocean and atmosphere may continue to periodically exhibit La Niña-like signatures. Sea Surface Temperatures Coastal waters remain generally warmer than average all around the country and positive anomalies increased during the final week of August, especially near the eastern and northern North Island. The anomaly in the NZ box (160 E-170 W, S) is currently nearing +0.6 o C. Ocean waters are still much warmer than average across the Tasman Sea, particularly in the south and west. Differences from average global sea surface temperatures for 20 August 16 September Map courtesy of NOAA Climate Diagnostics Centre (

4 Monthly values of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), a measure of changes in atmospheric pressures across the Pacific, and the 3-month mean (black line). SOI mean values: August SOI 0.4; June - August average 0.1 Differences from average August surface temperatures in the seas around New Zealand.

5 Outlook: September November 2017 Temperatures are forecast to be above average for all regions of New Zealand (55% to 65% chance for above average temperatures). Nevertheless, frosts and cool snaps are still possible during spring. Coastal water temperatures around New Zealand are forecast to remain above average over the next three-month period. Rainfall totals are about equally likely to be normal (35-40% chance) or above normal (35-40% chance) for the North Island and the north of the South Island and most likely to be near normal (45% chance) for all remaining regions of New Zealand. Soil moisture levels and river flows are about equally likely to be near normal (35-40%) or above normal (35-40% chance) for the North Island and the north of the South Island. Soil moisture levels and river flows are most likely to be near normal (45% chance) in the east and west of the South Island. Graphical representation of the regional probabilities, Seasonal Climate Outlook, September November 2017.

6 The climate we predicted (June 2017 August 2017) and what happened The atmospheric circulation around New Zealand was forecast to favour more anticyclonic flows (high pressure) than normal to start the three month period of June August 2017, bringing extended periods of settled weather. For June August 2017 as a whole, the atmospheric circulation around New Zealand was forecast to favour slightly more westerly wind flows than normal, but variable circulation patterns were to be expected over the course of the winter season. Actual pressures were higher than normal to the southeast of the country and near normal across New Zealand. There was no significant airflow anomaly. Predicted air temperature: June August 2017 temperatures were about equally likely to be above average or near average for all regions of New Zealand. Outcome: Actual temperatures were near average for much of the country. Pockets of above average temperature were observed in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and parts of the West Coast. Predicted rainfall: June August 2017 rainfall totals were likely to be near normal or below normal in the north of the North Island and east of the South Island. For all remaining regions of New Zealand, winter rainfall totals were most likely to be near normal. Outcome: Actual rainfall was near normal for much of the country. Above normal rainfall was recorded for eastern parts of the South Island from Christchurch down to Balclutha. For more information about NIWA s climate work, visit:

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