Is this the winter of our content?

BALMY: Mary Jane takes a leap on to the beach at Auckland’s sunny Mission Bay yesterday.
BALMY: Mary Jane takes a leap on to the beach at Auckland’s sunny Mission Bay yesterday.

As the nation marked the shortest day of the year yesterday, some towns and cities have experienced their warmest start to winter on record.

Niwa forecaster Christopher Brandolino said that 20 days into winter, Palmerston North and Whanganui residents had enjoyed their warmest average temperatures for June since records began, in 1928 and 1937 respectively.

Masterton was also going through one of the mildest starts to winter on record, Brandolino said, as was Whangarei.

The main centres were also having a better-than-average winter so far, with the average Auckland temperature, measured at Whenuapai, coming in as the third-warmest since records began in 1945.

Although this month's storm cut power to some Aucklanders for about a week and uprooted trees, it also brought in some warm air, Brandolino said. "It was windy and wet but it wasn't a cold rain."

Wellington's average temperature so far this month was 2.1 degrees above normal, at 11.8 degrees. Christchurch's was 1.2 degrees above the normal average for June at 8.1 degrees.

Brandolino said the lack of southerly winds caused the unseasonal warmth.

The top half of the country had had a wetter than normal start to winter but conditions elsewhere were quite dry.

Looking ahead, the warmer-than-average temperatures were likely to continue, Brandolino said.

However, the east coast of the North Island and the top of the South Island should expect above-average rainfall for the rest of the winter as warm winds come in from the east. Rainfall should be about average for the rest of the country.

Snowfall predictions were difficult but with a warmer winter ahead, ski resorts might have to make their own snow unless more frequent and intense southerlies arrived, Brandolino said.

Sunday Star Times