It might not have felt like it in the first week of 2014, but a warmer than normal start to the year is predicted for Manawatu.
Showers and wind have been the recipe of the year so far, but the prediction is that the summer will be characterised by one factor - heat.
Climate forecaster Niwa yesterday released its summary of December's weather and its outlook for January to March for the region.
It predicts that temperatures in the Central North Island - including Manawatu - are most likely to be above average in the first three months of the year, with rainfall, soil moisture and river flows expected to be normal.
For the next three months, lower than normal pressures are forecast over the Tasman Sea and north of New Zealand, while higher than normal pressures are forecast for the southeast of the country, Niwa says.
That circulation pattern is expected to be associated with unusual winds from a northeasterly direction, although those winds will be weak.
Sea-surface temperatures are expected to remain above average.
The predicted warmth comes on the back of figures released by climate scientist Jim Salinger on Monday showing that last winter in Manawatu - and throughout New Zealand - was the warmest since records began in 1870. The average temperature in Palmerston North last year was 14.1 degrees Celsius, 0.85C above normal, only just beaten as the warmest recorded year by 1998's average of 14.2C.
Although 2013 as a whole was record-breaking, Manawatu had no single-day or monthly records broken in December.
December's weather was characterised by warmer than normal temperatures on the east coast of the Tararua Range and drier than normal conditions on the Central Plateau, Niwa said.
Ohakune had its fourth-lowest December rainfall total in its recorded history with 54 millimetres of rain falling in the 31 days.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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