Coolest little capital warms up

Last updated 06:57 03/10/2012
Imogen Stone Oriental Bay

LOOKING UP: Imogen Stone does handstands on Oriental Bay beach on a perfect spring afternoon.

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Wellington was the sunniest city in New Zealand in September.

The first month of spring was characterised by westerly winds bringing rain to the west and sun in the east, according to Niwa's September summary.

The capital received 189 sunshine hours during the month, well up on the average 163 hours. Christchurch was nipping at Wellington's heels, with 184 hours.

Niwa principal climate scientist Andrew Tait said it was uncommon, but not unheard of, for Wellington to take the sunny September crown.

The last time it had the most sunshine hours for the month was in 2007, with 179 hours, pipping Christchurch's 175. In 2005, Wellington also took the September title, with 185 hours.

Rainfall in Wellington was 64 millimetres well below the average 97mm. One-fifth of that rain fell on September 17, when surface flooding and slips affected commuter traffic, particularly in the northern and western suburbs.

Temperatures for the month were about average, at 11.7 degrees Celsius, up from 11.3C.

The strongest wind gust was on September 8 - 128kmh at Wellington Airport, the fourth-strongest since records began in 1972. The high winds caused flights to be cancelled, and the Rimutaka Hill Road to be closed. A lightning storm caused a power cut during the All Blacks' test against Argentina at Westpac Stadium.

The spring westerlies brought heavy rain to the west of the country, while the east remained dry, with Hawke's Bay and Gisborne recording less than half of the normal rainfall. Hawke's Bay had 27mm of rain, about half the average, while mean temperatures were normal at 11.4C.

Christchurch was the driest and coolest of the main centres, Auckland the wettest, Tauranga the warmest, and Hamilton the cloudiest.

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- The Dominion Post

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