Hydro Lakes Critically Low

New Zealand’s hydro-electric storage lakes continued to decline during the first half of February 2008.

On Friday 15th February, storage lakes held about 2400 GigaWatt hours (GWh) of energy, close to levels in February of the 1992 crisis year.

Daily figures to February 9th show a continuing decline during the early part of the month to 2524 GWh 79% of average for the time of year. Inflows were well below average during the same period.

The weather may have delivered some hope on Friday 15th, when the dry spell in the southern part of the south island was broken. A low pressure weather system that would have provided a spectacular cold-snap if it had arrived mid-winter brought snow to some areas (Craigieburn, Lake Tekapo, Cardrona etc.) and heavy rainfall in other places. Up to 120 mm fell in some Christchurch suburbs during the week, and 180 mm was noted in Alexandra.

Some southern lake catchments will have benefitted from the burst of rainfall, but dry conditions have now returned, and are expected for the next week. Lake level data for the wettest day, Friday 15th, is expected to be available within the next few days.

On a lighter note, the Rural Network website has been featuring the Dalton-Stevenson scale of drought analysis which measures farmers’ perceptions of when it’s gittendroy. You know its getting dry when the trees are chasing the dogs for moisture but this only occurs after the drought siren has been sounded at MAF. A good read.

[Compiled from data supplied by M-co, comments on NZ weather forum and data supplied by private weather stations in the South Island.]

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