Summer's slow struggle to heat up
Summer got off to a poor start in Auckland in December - and January wasn't much better, with conditions cloudier and cooler than normal.
Records revealed December was the cloudiest since records began and the theme continued in January with about three-quarters of the usual sunshine quota in January.
There were five days with virtually no sun, compared with 10 days in December.
The cloudy and cool conditions were caused by more lows east of the country producing more frequent south westerlies, with their commando raids of cold air up from the southern oceans, from time to time.
As a result, mean temperatures were a degree below the January average at 19.0C instead of the usual 20.1C. The average daily maximum was 22.3°C, and the warmest day only struggled up to 25C. The coldest night was 11C.
The south westerlies brought with them about average rainfall with totals of just over 60mm, a tad under the average of 65mm. About half of this came on January 7, when 26 to 30mm fell. Much of the rain was spread over nine rain days.
As a result of the excess rain in December, soils only dried out slightly and would have been moist enough to keep the buzz of lawnmowers going. However, gardeners would have noticed a check in their summer crops slow down with the generally cooler conditions.
The continuing cloudiness of summer would have been noticeable - with only 178 hours of bright sunshine instead of the 230 hours. January is usually the sunniest month of the year and with the daylight hours in February starting to swing in to autumn the long days are on the wane.
And February prospects? Normally this month the big anticyclones track over central and southern New Zealand bringing sunny settled weather. Some of the highest temperatures in the Auckland region for the year are usually recorded between Waitangi Day and mid month and 2012 appears to be no exception. Although La Niña is on the wane, itinerant easterlies should occur from time to time.