Dreaming of a warm and bright Christmas

A sunny Otago Christmas Day is predicted. The MetService is forecasting a fine day for the region, with temperatures ranging from 23degC in Dunedin and 27degC at the airport, to 28degC in Queenstown and 30degC in Wanaka.

However, rain is expected in the evening throughout the region. It was predicted to clear everywhere but coastal Otago which would probably wake up on Boxing Day to drizzle before it clears, forecasters say.

Niwa climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said historically Christmas Day had a mixed reputation.

''Looking at the last decade, Christmas Day weather has been settled and dry for Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch in about two out of three years, on average. For Dunedin and Wellington, the odds of a dry Christmas Day have typically been closer to 50:50.''

New Zealand had enjoyed beautiful Christmas Day weather for the past three years with Dunedin having an extremely warm one in 2009, hitting 32degC in a nor'wester. Christmas Day 2010 was also dry in most places, due to an anticyclone over the Tasman Sea, but it was somewhat cooler, due to southwesterly winds.

Christmas Day was not always so settled, she said.

Christmas Day in 1975 ''was a shocker'' due to a very large storm off the east coast of the South Island which delivered cold southerlies and rain to many parts of the country with temperatures struggling to reach 10degC in Dunedin, she said.

Sunniest: 1988 12.4 hours
Wettest: 1969 33mm
Warmest: 2009 32degC

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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