Welcome Rain

The 32-day dry spell in Tawa ended yesterday, with the arrival of welcome rain.

Monday, 18th March 2013

The dry weather which has resulted in the entire North Island being declared a drought zone ended yesterday with the arrival of the remnants of Cyclone Sandra. This has bought rain to Northland, Auckland, Taranaki, and Waikato but, by the time that the next high pressure system begins to arrive tomorrow, there may not have been sufficient rainfall to break the drought.

In Tawa, the rain event began with a misty drizzly period just after midday yesterday. It wasn’t until 6 o’clock last night that the drizzle became a gentle rain, delivering 7 mm up until midnight.

The rain rate increased after midnight, providing another 18 mm by 3 a.m., with a peak rain rate of 27.3 mm/hr at 00:50. The rain eased back, bringing today’s total so far to 24 mm by 11 o’clock this morning according to Tawa Weather. This sort of gentle but steady rain is exactly what’s needed to allow the ground and plants to take up the rain and minimise run-off.

A total ban on outdoor water use came into effect on Saturday, just one week after the use of sprinkler systems was banned. This prevented home gardeners from even filling watering cans from the council supply. The Wellington Regional Council warns that rationing of water may become necessary if these bans do not reduce consumption by 10%.

The wet spell will ease to drizzle tomorrow, to be followed by seven days of fine weather according to the long-range forecast provided by Metservice. This means that home gardeners need to be stockpiling rainwater now to get them through the next few weeks if the drought persists.

It was surprisingly easy to intercept one of the downpipes on the garage to start filling a 30 litre plastic bin that is normally used to hold garden weeds before they are transported to the compost bin. All it took was a plastic ice cream container tucked underneath the end of the downpipe and a short length of hose poked through a hole cut in the side of the container to direct rainwater into the plastic bin which was located downslope. To our amazement this improvised leaky rain collector filled the 30 litre bucket from just 2 mm of rain gathered from half of the roof of a standard single-car garage.

It has been so successful that I have been bailing the water out to store it in buckets and bins redirected from their normal duties. Wellington uses wafer-thin rubbish sacks for its refuse collection, and ours normally lives in a standard rubbish bin to keep it safe from wascally wodents and curious cats. The rubbish bag was evicted, it’s currently cohabiting the wheelie bin which is normally home to plastic and cardboard being recycled. The rubbish bin is now full of captured rainwater, stockpiled for later in the week when the sun is again blazing down on the garden veges. I have to admit that I’m eyeing up that wheelie bin for water storage duties – the recyclables may have to be parked for a fortnight to give me extra rainwater storage…

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