Spectacular sunny spell sees out summer

19:14, Feb 22 2013

As summer winds down, seasoned forecasters are struggling to recall the last time the capital had such a run of sunny, settled weather.

"It's been spectacular. Forecasters who've been doing this for 30 years can't remember a long, settled spell like this," MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said.

"To have cloudless skies and light winds in Wellington, that's rare."

Despite yesterday's chilly southerly, the highs are back this weekend and are set to continue until summer officially ends on Thursday.

Rain is likely for the first few days of March as active fronts muscle in to herald autumn.

"These weather systems will have more oomph and bite in them, but we'll still get some nice fine days in March," Mr Corbett said.


The coming week's looming high would be a "textbook one", WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan said.

"It's huge, perfectly shaped and will be centred smack bang over the top of Wellington by tomorrow or Monday, meaning light winds, calm seas, warm days and cool nights."

The summer had been a cracker for two reasons, he said. More big highs crossed central and southern parts of the country, allowing for a lot of high pressure that fended off rainclouds and wind. Also, what rain there was swerved round the capital, falling on the Kapiti Coast or south of the city.

Wind flows have also played their part over recent weeks, with southwesterlies proving a godsend.

"That is a stunning direction for Wellington as the Southern Alps not only block the cloud and rain but often tilt the winds more westerly in Wellington, which further lifts the temperature," Mr Duncan said.

Niwa figures show temperatures in Wellington have been 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than average since the start of December, while Napier recorded a 1.4C jump on the norm.

But Niwa climate scientist Andrew Tait said rain and sunshine hovered around average for the capital.

"We know the old saying, you can't beat Wellington on a good day. Maybe that's pushing our collective perception of a good summer, having more of those nice spells and fine weather, even though the averages are the same."

The Dominion Post