Otago weather records fall

It was the warmest March in about 60 years for Wanaka and Cromwell and the driest in Balclutha.

The warmth was due to slow-moving anticyclones, or highs, which generally kept rain-bearing weather systems away, resulting in a dry, sunny and warm March, Niwa principal scientist Andrew Tait said.

Niwa's March climate summary showed temperatures were well above average. Wanaka and Cromwell recorded mean temperature records of 16.6degC (2.4degC higher) and 16.8degC (2.2degC higher), respectively.

The temperatures broke a 58-year record for Wanaka and a 64-year record for Cromwell, while Ranfurly came close to breaking its 38-year record with 14degC (1.5degC higher), its second-highest mean temperature.

The towns also broke records for mean maximum temperatures. Cromwell recorded 24degC, its highest since 1949, and Wanaka its third-highest since 1955, with 23degC.

Mean maximum temperature records were also set at Tara Hills, with 22.8degC, and Lauder, 23.7degC, while fourth-highest temperatures were recorded at Ranfurly, 21.5degC, and Dunedin airport, 20.9degC.

Nugget Point recorded its highest daily maximum air temperature since 1970, of 28.6degC on March 15, and Tara Hills its third-highest, with 30.3degC on the same day. The nationwide average temperature in March was 16.7degC, 0.9degC above normal.

While Dunedin was the coolest and equal cloudiest (with Christchurch) city of the country's six main centres, its mean temperature was well above its average at 14.9degC and its sunshine hours were also above normal at 160 hours, 111% of normal.

As with Tauranga (20mm), Hamilton (36mm) and Christchurch (20mm), Dunedin's rainfall was well below normal at 30mm, 47% of normal.

Balclutha experienced its lowest rainfall since records began in 1964, of 12mm, 21% of normal.

Extreme one-day rainfalls were recorded at Tara Hills, 29mm on the 17th, its equal fourth-highest, and Alexandra, 28mm on the 17th, its fourth-highest.

Queenstown recorded its second highest sunshine hours of 230, while Cromwell recorded its fourth-highest with 244 hours.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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