While the northern part of the North Island experienced stormy conditions yesterday, Tawa was able to welcome 7mm of gentle rainfall during the 8 hours to 10 p.m. With parched soils and stressed trees and shrubs, the gentle but steady rainfall was a welcome reprieve.
The rain will give plants a much-needed boost, as the last rainfall was 10mm on the 18th followed by mainly still and sunny conditions.
Only 26mm of rain have fallen so far during January, just over a quarter of the 99mm which had fallen during the same period last year. Soil moisture is still low, but yesterday’s gentle rain has softened the surface to allow the ground to take up more of the rain which is forecast for later today.
With our hottest month, February, just around the corner, steady (not torrential) rainfall during January is essential to prevent fire risk indicators climbing to Very High or Extreme in the near future. Yesterday’s Fire Danger for the area was High. As recently as January 20th, Fire Danger was Low, but the dry windy conditions have caused the index to climb rapidly since.
Regional fire risk was last at similar levels in January 2003, and rose to Very High during February that year. Local Councils warned homeowners to clear trees and shrubs away from houses, cut dry grass and be vigilant. We can expect similar warnings this year.