It's not quite a heatwave, but it's close

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
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ANDY JACKSON

BACK IN THE SWIM: Swimmers have got the all-clear at the Waiwhakaiho River mouth but shellfish collecting is still off limits.

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It's not quite a heatwave, but it's close.

Temperatures have been hitting the high-20s every day this week sending hordes to the beach and the icecream shops.

It also means a record-breaking demand for water on the garden, which has left reservoirs dangerously low.

On Wednesday, 50 million litres of water was used by residents in New Plymouth, Omata, Bell Block, Waitara, Tikorangi and Urenui, who are supplied by the New Plymouth Water Treatment plant.

Some reservoirs are emptying faster than they can be refilled, which means low water pressure for some people and no water at all for others.

The New Plymouth District Council yesterday put water restrictions in place and introduced the odds and evens system for hand-held hoses. Demand is particularly high in sweltering Inglewood and coastal Oakura. Stratford and Hawera have not yet reached that situation.

The not-quite heatwave has seen rising demand for icecream at the Iona Dairy in New Plymouth.

Kyo Chen at the Iona Dairy said they had been selling about 500 icecreams a day during the week and 1000 a day on the weekend.

"I have a sore arm from scooping," he said.

But the farmers aren't worrying, yet.

"I don't think there's an issue at the moment, we're having a pretty good season," Federated Farmers Taranaki president Bronwyn Muir said.

She said she thought most farmers were in a reasonably good position this summer, and hoped they could continue into autumn without the hint of a drought.

Down at Fitzroy Beach yesterday afternoon Brad Dannefaerd and his son Zachary, 4, were boogie boarding while mum Ariana watched from the beach.

"It's just too hot to do anything else," she said.

Metservice meteorologist John Law said the weekend is expected to bring a reprieve from the long hot days and nights, but Mr Hall said it won't be enough to ease the pressure on the water system.

"Water use has remained high today and we don't believe the forecast showers in the next few days will give us that much relief. We need a few days of substantial rain plus a significant drop in water use to at least 40 million litres per day to ensure we can maintain a sustainable supply for our residents," he said.

The forecast is for showers and westerlies over the weekend which could mean a slight cooling off. But that won't last and another warm spell is expected to hit the region next week, Mr Hall said.

He said a tropical air mass from the north was making the days and nights hot and sticky.

Wednesday saw a high of 26 degrees Celsius, close to the high of 27C for the month so far on February 6.

He said once the sun goes down the temperature starts to drop - but it doesn't do it fast and only gets about one degree colder an hour.

On Wednesday night the temperature only dropped to the overnight low of 16.5C at 6am on Thursday.

Mr Hall said the late sunsets of summer were typically contributing to the heat and once the sun comes up, the heat starts rising again fast.

By 9am yesterday it was 21C, climbing to a maximum of 25.5C in New Plymouth.

 

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WATER RESTRICTIONS

In New Plymouth hand-held hoses can only be used at odd-numbered houses on odd-numbered days and at even-numbered houses on even-numbered days. The use of sprinklers and unattended hoses is banned. Normal commercial use is unchanged. No water restrictions are in place in South Taranaki or Stratford. 

OUR FACEBOOK FANS' SUGGESTIONS FOR KEEPING COOL

Go for a swim or take a cold shower

Have a cold drink

Stand in the chiller at a liquor store

Get naked

Run cold water over your wrists

Freeze grapes and eat them

Chill a towel in the freezer for your pet to lie on later

Freeze hot water bottles and chuck them in your bed 

- Taranaki Daily News

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