Climate extremes in Otago in 2013

Otago recorded some of the highest and lowest temperatures of 2013, while Wanaka experienced its warmest year on record.

Due to the region's position, it was the nearest to a continental climate the country had, so it was normal for it to experience climate extremes, Niwa principal scientist meteorology Mike Revell said.

Niwa released its 2013 climate summary yesterday showing Otago, like the rest of the country, experienced warmer than normal conditions. The national average was 13.4degC, 0.8degC above average.

''Annual mean sea-level pressures were lower than usual to the west and south of New Zealand, whereas higher than normal pressures persisted to the east of the Chatham Islands, resulting in a northerly flow anomaly over the country.''

Wanaka was one of 17 towns to experience its warmest year, with an average temperature of 11.6degC, 1.1degC higher than normal, since records began in 1955, and its third-highest average maximum temperature of 17.1degC, 1degC above normal.

Elsewhere in the region, Alexandra had its second-warmest year and also recorded its second-warmest mean low temperature of 5.3degC, while Dunedin, Ranfurly and Cromwell had their third-warmest year.

Clyde recorded the highest national temperature of the year, 35.1degC on January 5, while Ranfurly recorded the second-coldest temperature, -9.4degC, on June 22.

Central Otago spots Lauder, Alexandra and Cromwell were the driest places in the country with 453mm, 455mm and 492mm respectively.

Despite that, Ranfurly (624mm) and Alexandra also had near-record rainfall for the year, including Alexandra's second-highest one-day rainfall on June 2 of 49mm.

This compared with Dunedin's rainfall of 775mm, Oamaru's 642mm Ranfurly's 624 and Middlemarch's 565mm.

While Dunedin was the cloudiest of New Zealand's six main centres, the fourth-highest sunshine hours were recorded by Cromwell (2361) and Balclutha (2062).

Last week, climate scientist Jim Salinger released his interpretation of the year's weather statistics indicating the increase in the average annual mean temperatures did not match Otago's warmest year, 1999.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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