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Lingering La Nina weather pattern to blame

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 2, 2011) – A leading weather forecaster is predicting 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."

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, RNZI also reports that a water management advisor working in the Pacific region says countries vulnerable to drought must do better in collecting water in the rainy periods. Dave Hebblethwaite, who works for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, says the best thing countries can do is prepare themselves for when it does rain. "It will likely rain between now and the next dry spell. And when it does if villagers can ensure their rooves are guttered properly. That they actually collect as much rainfall as they can and from as many roofs as they can. So they can have their tanks as full as they can going into the next dry."]

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