Scientist's 40-plus forecast loses heat

MATT STEWART, SEAMUS BOYER AND MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Napier summer
JOHN COWPLAND

HANGING ON TO SUMMER: Emily Davidson-Payne, 5, Hannah Rich, 7, and Isabella Davidson-Payne, 7, enjoy the warm, sunny weather in Napier.

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The climate scientist who tipped 40-degree temperatures along the east coast has now poured cold water on his own predictions.

Jim Salinger revised his outlook yesterday after tipping the possibility of 40C-plus temperatures from Hawke's Bay to Timaru.

He said on Tuesday that the heatwave was being buoyed by gentle northwesterlies and warm air clashing with the tailend of tropical cyclone Oswald, mirroring conditions that created the hottest day yet recorded, of 42.4C in Rangiora on February 7, 1973.

However, cooler atmospheric conditions had since prevailed, he said.

The temperature in Hawke's Bay reached the mid-20s yesterday, well short of Dr Salinger's predictions.

But the recent fine spell prompted him to suggest moving forward the dates of the school summer holidays, to take advantage of better weather.

"The problem is Christmas Day - I'd like to declare it as the 25th of January."

Meanwhile, Federated Farmers Wairarapa president Jamie Falloon said farmers were starting to get concerned about the possibility of drought.

"We haven't hit the panic button, but give it another three to four weeks of this heat and low humidity, and it might be different. The big concern for us is that we didn't really carry through a lot of feed from what was a pretty ordinary spring."

Farmers were watching water levels carefully, he said.

"Most people have weaned early and we've got no surplus stock on the farm.

"But the stock's in good condition and the grass isn't completely dead yet."

Niwa rainfall figures show that, in the three months since November 1, Waipawa has received 66.2mm - just 38 per cent of the normal 174mm over that period.

Napier got 78mm, or 43 per cent of normal, and Hastings 62.2mm, or 43 per cent of normal. Dannevirke fared better, with 182.6mm, or 77 per cent of normal.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council group manager of resource management Iain Maxwell said total bans were likely to be enforced on water takes on the Ngaruroro River at Fernhill and the Tukituki River at Taiparu Rd by Sunday.

"On others we have a close watching brief.

"We're working very hard with irrigator groups to roster or ration water to drag it out."

With another two weeks of fine, dry weather on the horizon Greater Wellington regional council is warning that water supply flows in Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua and Wellington are below average and reducing steadily.

HOT AND HOTTER

Yesterday's highs:

National high: Alexandra and Murchison 33C

Masterton 31C Palmerston North 28C Wellington 26C Levin 26C Kapiti 25C New Plymouth 25C Gisborne 24C Napier 24C Whanganui 24C Hastings 23C

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- The Dominion Post

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