3 Oct 2011

Forecaster sees little relief for drought hit areas in Pacific

5:05 am on 3 October 2011

A leading weather forecaster is prediciting little relief, short term, for drought-affected areas of the Pacific region.

Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency while Samoa, American Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga are also suffering from lack of rainfall.

The principal climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Dr James Renwick, says the unusual dry period is a result of the lingering La Nina weather pattern which looks to be redeveloping after being the main weather influence last summer.

Dr Renwick says the prospects of rain in the near future aren't encouraging.

"That's not to say there can't be developments with convective rainfall.And I guess as we get into the cyclone season, which is still, I guess, a month or two away from really getting going, events can happen. But overall rainfall is likely to largely to stay away from the more eastern and north eastern regions of the south west Pacific."

NIWA's Dr James Renwick