Temperatures on the east coast of New Zealand could reach 40
degrees today and tomorrow, according to a climate scientist.
The weather has hit 40 twice in the country's history -
Hawkes Bay authorities hope it won't last long and are on
alert for a possible drought.
Dr Jim Salinger said the conditions were ripe for the mercury
to reach the high 30s and even 40s on the eastern side of New
Zealand. The conditions this week were very similar to that
of a heatwave.
"Normally end of January, start of February is when we get
the hottest temperatures of summer ... the atmospheric stew
is set up nicely for us to get high temperatures over the
next few days," he said.
A big high sitting to the east of the country, a large warm
anticyclone parked near the Chatham Islands and the tail- end
of Cyclone Oswald are all pushing up the temperatures. If New
Zealand was ever going to break its record temperature, it
would be now, Dr Salinger said.
"The conditions are set to create warm south-westerlies in
the east of the South Island and southern North Island," he
New Zealand's hottest recorded temperature is 42C in Rangiora
on February 7, 1973, followed by 40.3C on February 6, 2011,
Auckland's hottest recorded temperature is 32.4 on February
12, 2009, at Whenuapai Air Base. It equalled the city's
previous high, recorded in the Auckland Domain in February
137 years earlier, in 1872.
The city is expected to reach a high of 25C today and highs
of 26C tomorrow through until Saturday.
MetService forecaster Ian Gall doubted temperatures would top
35C, saying there were "modifying factors in the coastal
places" such as sea breezes. It normally took a
north-westerly to bring temperatures above the mid-30s, he
WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan said he could not see
temperatures reaching the 40C mark.
Timaru's 40.3C "came about from a hot north-westerly that
came right off the Australian desert", he said. "I don't
think it's going to happen." Hawkes Bay is on drought watch
after receiving just half its normal January rainfall after a
Ministry of Primary Industries spokesman Stuart Anderson said
an official drought was when it had economic, environmental
and social impacts on farming businesses, families and the
The warm dry weather has proved a boon for vineyards and
orchardists but Otane grower Hugh Ritchie was philosophical
about non-irrigated crops suffering.
"Last year we had just as many disasters with the wet
weather, so it's swings and roundabouts," he said.
NIWA data shows Kaitaia has had 4mm out of a normal 89mm for
the month, Auckland 6mm compared with 61mm, Tauranga 4mm
compared to 78mm, and Hamilton 11mm instead of 82mm.
- Amelia Wade of the NZ Herald
- additional reporting Hawke's Bay Today