Editorial: Summer of discontent

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 06:25 16/01/2014
tim bowie
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ

SUMMER DAY: Tim Bowie enjoys a hot day at Caroline Bay on his poleski.

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OPINION: A few years ago, while working in Wellington, I used to see one of those famous Tui billboards on the facade of an office building as I drove in to work.

"It's going to be a long, hot summer," it read.

You know what it said below that, of course: "Yeah right!"

For some strange reason, I've been reminded of that over the past few weeks.

Because that could have summed up what the mood with regard to the weather has been like here in South Canterbury, and in much of the rest of New Zealand, in recent weeks.

Yesterday, it seemed we were set for what, in the context of this summer of discontent, would have been a scorcher - 28 degrees Celsius. And it was warm, and sunny, for much of the day, though if my reading of the Metservice website is correct, the mercury only climbed to 25.

Today, according to the same website, we're again looking at 28, except that rain is predicted to develop in the afternoon, and there's a chance that it could be heavy.

Suffice it to say, that's not what most of us want to hear. Farmers have been generally welcoming of this summer's rain, but even for them, particularly the cropping farmers, a fair chunk of sunshine between now and harvest is really what they need to balance out all the prior precipitation.

So most of us could do with some sun, even though many of the workers are back at work. At least it would help keep the kids happy in the last couple of weeks of the school holidays.

But while we're bemoaning that weather, let's spare a thought for our neighbours across the ditch, where temperatures are soaring, along with the bushfire danger. I've heard reports of temperatures already approaching 30 when people are heading to work in the morning, and of 44 degrees at around 8pm. That's no joke, however you want to look at it.

Yes, Australians are used to much higher temperatures than we experience.

Agreed, readings in the high forties are nothing new for them. They've often formed a backdrop to action at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, though I can't say I've seen reports before of players vomiting on court due to the oppressive heat.

And, again, there's the everpresent threat of bushfires. Exceptionally hot, dry days will be turning much of the Aussie countryside into a tinderbox. Firefighters and emergency services will be on tenterhooks.

I don't know about you, but from here it looks to me like we're sitting pretty, relatively speaking.

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