Spring in capital's step a little dry underfoot

MATT STEWART | WEATHER
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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The capital enjoyed its driest spring since records began, with Wellington Airport recording just 45 per cent of the normal rainfall for the past three months.

As of late yesterday, 111 millimetres had fallen - on track to be the lowest since measuring started there in 1960.

Wellington amassed 632.5 hours of sunshine - although unusually sunny, the figure is well short of the 687 hours recorded at Kelburn through the golden spring of 1958.

Niwa climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said spring was "notably dry" across the region, with sparse rain across parts of Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Taranaki, and Wellington.

Farmers in Wairarapa and parts of southern Hawke's Bay had expressed concern to Niwa about the arid spring, which put farmers on the back foot heading into summer, Ms Griffiths said.

Masterton small-flock shearer Peter Vallance said the dry spring had been a "double-edged sword" for his mobile business, Che-Baa-Ber.

"It's good for us because we can get the sheep done, but it's bad because there's no grass, and without grass there's less livestock and less work."

He said spring was markedly drier than last year.

Wairarapa had a cold spring, with gauges in Martinborough and Castlepoint recording averages of 11.8 degrees Celsius and 12.3C respectively, both well below average.

Summer officially starts today, and Niwa's December outlook predicts temperatures across the lower North Island to hover near or below average, with rainfall, soil moisture and river flows tracking in the near normal range.

MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said summer could take longer than usual to fire because the sea around the country was about 2C cooler than normal, a trend expected to continue until February.

Neutral weather created by the absence of El Nino or La Nina climate patterns meant there would be a "muted, cooler feel to temperatures" in the lead-up to Christmas.

Short-term prospects are borderline, too, with gales expected to batter Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay overnight.

Gusts between Featherston and Hastings, peaking at up to 140kmh tomorrow morning, should ease by evening.

 

SPRING 2012

Wellington Airport: 111 millimetres of rain in three months, 45 per cent of normal, the lowest since records began in 1960.

Average temperature 13 degrees Celsius, normal.

Kelburn: 632.5 hours of bright sunshine, well above average, fourth highest since records began in 1928.

Average temperature 12C, normal.

168mm of rain, 54 per cent of normal.

Top spring sunshine at Kelburn:

1958: 687 hours;

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2007: 661 hours

2005: 656 hours;

2012: 632.5 hours

Contact Matt Stewart
Weather, science and environment reporter
Email: matt.stewart@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @smatape

- The Dominion Post

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