Blenheim's sunshine rank falls

Blenheim has no hope of reclaiming its annual sunshine title for the year.

At the start of December, the town is sitting a distant sixth in the sunshine stakes.

Plant and Food scientist Rob Agnew said Whakatane was leading the pack with 2384 sunshine hours for the year, followed by Nelson 73 hours behind.

The tally for Blenheim is just 2189 hours.

Blenheim was sunnier and drier than average but cooler with less rain and wind, according to climate records from the weather station at the Marlborough Research Centre campus at Grovetown Park, just north of Blenheim.

The sun shone on Blenheim for 270 hours in November, 12 per cent more than the long-term average of 240 hours.

The monthly total was 237.5 hours last year and 283 in 2010.

Despite the sun, it had been the coolest November since 2000, with a mean of 13.8 degrees Celsius, yet the monthly high of 28.5C on November 25 was better than the high of 27.8C last summer.

The monthly rainfall of 7mm was the third lowest on record since since 1930 and just 15 per cent of the long-term average of 47mm, Mr Agnew said.

This compared with 50.4mm last year and 27mm in 2010.

So far this year, 554.5mm of rain had fallen, 92 per cent of the 600mm long term average, he said.

Ground frosts were recorded on November 7 and 8.

On November 5 and 9 the temperatures dropped to between 0 and -1C, just to above the point at which a frost was recorded, Mr Agnew said.

November was also usually the windiest month in Blenheim, Mr Agnew said.

However, he said, the average 230km wind run last month was well below any of the 16 years recorded.

Soils were drying out fast, which explained why unirrigated grass and pasture had started to turn brown during the past two weeks, Mr Agnew said.

Since the beginning of the month, soil moisture had dropped from 25.6 per cent to 16.6 per cent, 5-35cm below the ground.

"Moisture in the topsoil is getting close to its minimum value," Mr Agnew said.

SUNSHINE HOURS : January-December 2012

Whakatane 2384.4

Nelson 2311.5

Tekapo 2280.3

Appleby 2261.4

New Plymouth 2206.1

Blenheim 2189.4 

The Marlborough Express