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SEVERE FROSTS ACROSS NZ

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It was the coldest night so far this year for many centres last night as clear skies allowed polar air from the weekends storm to settle and freeze.
 
TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says temperatures plummeted right across the country.  “Although some low cloud stopped expected frosts in some areas most places had clear skies due to a large high over us”.
 
Mr Duncan says severe frosts are likely again tonight, possibly as far north as Rotorua.  He says minus 4 is tonight’s low in Roturua.
 
Current temperatures (as at 7:30am).
West Auckland:  1 degrees.
Hamilton:  -3
Taupo: -3
Blenheim: -3 (it was below zero by 6pm last night!)
Timaru: -6
Wanaka:  -5
Queenstown:  -6
Lumsden:  -5
 
“We know some isolated regions dropped to minus 7 in the South Island and I’m certain some communities without weather observations would have hit as low as minus 9 or 10” says Duncan.
 
OTHER WEATHER HEADLINES:
-          A very big storm forms east of Australia... almost a carbon copy of last week’s storm, however this one isn’t expected to affect NZ as severely at this stage.
-          Warmer temperatures are on the way for the country this weekend especially in the north.  Auckland’s overnight lows could rise by 10 degrees on last nights low.

 


BLOG - SEVERE FROSTS

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
-          Large high moving over new Zealand for 3 days.
-          Polar air from the weekends storm will now be felt
-          Severe frosts for many regions
 
We all know when we get a polar storm, like the one we’ve been getting since last Thursday, that snow and gales and bitterly cold temperatures are all part of the package.  But a lot of people don’t actually think about WHAT has just happened. 
 
Pretend for a moment that you have a large bath and in it is a big sponge, in the shape of New Zealand.  At the south end of the bath the water is cold... around the sponge it’s warm... and to the north the water is hot.  Now imagine you’re standing where the Chatham Islands are... and using your hand scoop cold water from the south up and over New Zealand.
 
That is pretty much what has been happening over the past 5 days.  The Low, like a gigantic scoop, has been pulling cold air from Antarctica and pushing it across New Zealand.  With the warming action from the wind blowing overnight lows are kept relatively warm.  Friction does that.  But when the wind stops the cold polar air finally has a chance to settle.
 
So welcome to: Severe frosts.  Thanks to a large high spreading over us for the next two nights, overnight lows will be dipping down to minus 3 or 4 in places like Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central Plateau and pretty much the entire South Island.  In fact in the South, some inland farms may see intense frosts of minus 8 or 9 or 10.
 
We may even see frosts in Auckland - that’s enough to bring the motorways to a halt... well, if they were moving in the first place.
 
So get your heaters out, stoke the fires, grab the electric blankets, and enjoy some good old winter weather.  The only places escaping the frosts – Northland and the North Island’s East Coast.
 
 
OTHER WEATHER HEADLINES:
- A new storm forms east of Australia... the third one in 2 weeks and like the others, it’ll move our way.
- Heavy rain on the way for northern regions of both islands this weekend.
- And warmer temperatures return to most by the weekend.
 
 
 
 
‘Weather’ you’re interested…
 
Feel like Summer isn’t long enough in NZ?  Well…you’re right – it isn’t!  In fact, thanks to the earth’s oval shaped orbit around the sun, summers are actually 7 days SHORTER in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere. 
 

 


SEVERE FROSTS TONIGHT

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+ Another cold day tomorrow

 
 
The coldest night so far this year is just hours away from kicking in.  That’s according to the radio network’s head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “We’ve had 5 very windy days dragging bitterly cold polar air over the country.  The friction of the wind keeps overnight lows relatively mild but tonight that wind will die out, allowing the cold air to sink to the ground and freeze”
 
Mr Duncan says severe frosts are expected over much of the South Island.  “Most main centres will dip to minus 2 , 3 or 4 but further inland some communities and farms may record lows tonight of minus 10”.
The North Island won’t escape the frosty weather with even Auckland in the firing line for frosts.  “The city centre will probably escape it but those sheltered suburbs especially in the west will probably see some frosts tomorrow morning”.
 
Towns like Taupo and Rotorua and parts of the Waikato will dip to around minus 2 or 3 while the lower part of the north island including Hawke’s Bay will have winds and possibly a shower or two keeping the frosts away.
 
Mr Duncan says the coldest part of the day is the 1 hour before sunrise.  “Daytime highs tomorrow will also be pretty chilly but warmth is expected to return on Thursday as a northerly flow starts up”
 
OTHER WEATHER HEADLINES:
- A new storm forms east of Australia... the third one in 2 weeks and like the others, it’ll move our way.
- Heavy rain is on the way for northern regions of both islands this weekend.

 


SLEET FALLS IN CHCH

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BUT WARMTH FOR NZ LATER IN THE WEEK…
 
The deep low that has brought snow, squally showers, and gales to many parts of the country over the past 5 days is this morning still continuing to affect us. 
Our South Island Weather Analyst Richard Green has just confirmed that sleet is now falling in Christchurch as winds shift to allow the bitterly cold weather to spread up the east coast of the South Island.  “Yesterday, warm, sunny skies greeted a number of people across the Plains but snow is forecast to low levels today, as the south west winds turn to a more bone-chilling southerly and affect the eastern side of both islands”.
Mr Green says the frontal system is expected to steadily move north today with snow also falling to relatively low levels in the North Island too.   Snow may fall on the Desert Road tonight and even the Rimutaka Ranges, however snow falls aren’t likely to be heavy enough to stop traffic.
 
Many places along the east coast of both islands will struggle to reach above double digits today or tomorrow.
 
But Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says warmth is definitely on the way later this week.  “Firstly we have a high moving over the country for a couple of days during the middle of the week.  This high has a lot of low cloud trapped in it so most places wont have a glorious week but it will kill that blustery wind”
 
“The main focus is the third consecutive low developing off the Australian east coast.  As this high moves off New Zealand around Friday the low is likely to push against it…bringing a strong, warm northerly flow across most of the country”.
 
Mr Duncan says places in the north could return to daytime highs over 17 or 18 this weekend.

 


SNOWING AND IT’S GETTING WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER

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-        IF YOU HATE SNOW THEN THE WEEKEND IS LOOKING HORRIBLE
 
Conditions are about to worsen in southern parts of New Zealand as an onslaught of Antarctic fuelled fronts make landfall. 
TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says the weekend is looking even worse with more heavy snow on the way but this time accompanied by gales.  “Yesterday’s snow fall was in calm conditions but the winds have really picked up today.  The storm would easily have the wind strength of strong cyclone if it was based in the tropics”.
He says gales are predicted to continue and even strengthen tonight and during Saturday.  “Now we’re really going to see some big wind chills, as low as minus 20 in the far south”.  The air temperature has struggled to reach over 1 or 2 degrees for many towns in Central Otago today and it’s been between zero and one degrees all day in Queenstown.  Tomorrow’s high will be lucky to reach 2 or 3 and it’ll be similar in Invercargill.
 “To make matters worse, squally showers with thunder and hail are likely at some stage overnight tonight in all western regions from Southland right up to Northland”.  Winds may reach well over 100km/h during these heavy showers however they’ll ease for many places during late Saturday.  In the north winds of 90km/h have blown across Auckland today.
“Conditions won’t be improving until Monday as a high pressure system gives the country a couple of relatively settled days”. 
Mr Duncan says another cold front is expected at the end of next week.

 


TORNADO HITS INVERCARGILL

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We have just had a report of a mini tornado hitting Invercargill.  At least 5 houses in one street have been damaged.  More news as it comes to hand…

TODAY IS THE WINTER SOLSTICE – THE SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR

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Today is the shortest day of the year for the southern hemisphere.  “Around 6:30pm tonight the sun is the furthest away from New Zealand” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “That means today is our shortest day and tonight is our longest night”.  That is why the winter solstice is June 21 and 22.
“Although this is the official start to winter and the coldest weather will now start, take comfort in the fact that as of tomorrow each day will start to get a little bit longer!”

 


GET READY: BACK END OF MINI CYCLONE ABOUT TO SLAM NZ

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- POLICE WARN SNOW IS “IMPOSSIBLE TO TRAVEL ON”
- COLD AIR STRAIGHT FROM ANTARCTICA
- AIR PRESSURE PLUMMETS
 
The deep low that brought heavy rain to some parts of New Zealand yesterday is about to intensify and bring severe gales and heavy snow from now until at least Sunday.  TRN’s Head weather Analyst Philip Duncan says it’s going to affect quite a lot of people. “The police have confirmed heavy snow has fallen in Alexandra, Queenstown and right up to Lindis Pass”.  Police describe the snow in the towns as impossible for cars to drive on and even four by four vehicles with chains are having trouble moving.
In Invercargill it’s the calm before the storm.  Very little wind and cold grey skies will give way to sleet and even snow showers tonight or tomorrow as winds up to gale force develop.  “The air pressure has plummeted this afternoon and for those who understand air pressure, 978mb is very low” says Duncan.  The low air pressure means winds will be very strong and the air unstable, leading to heavy showers laced with hail and thunder.
A number of snow warnings have been issued by MetService for the South.  Mr Duncan says snow will likely also affect Dunedin and the motorway could receive decent snow falls.
Further north and gale force westerlies are expected to pound southern Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa tonight and in to tomorrow.  “The isobars are packed very closely.  Winds may reach 130km/h in exposed areas according to MetService” says Duncan.
And in northern regions bands of heavy showers are likely through Friday and Saturday with isolated thunderstorms and even hail possible.  “Aucklanders will certainly feel a nip in the air as the ‘feels like’ temperature on Saturday may be mostly around 7 or 8 degrees”.
 
CLARIFICATIONIn an earlier story we said today was the shortest day.  Tomorrow is in fact the shortest day this year.  Andrew Buckingham from Auckland’s Stardome Observatory says “The time does vary slightly each year. Solstice can range anywhere between the 20th & 23rd of the month but normally on the 21st or 22nd.  This year the Winter Solstice is at 6:08am on 22nd June NZ time”.

 


“MINI-CYCLONE” ENGULFS ENTIRE TASMAN SEA… HEADING OUR WAY

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It’s Sydney’s turn this morning….then it moves our way tonight.  Another massive storm off the New South Wales coast is rapidly deepening today and is likely to deepen further before it reaches New Zealand.  The storm is feared to bring flash floods and down trees in Australia this morning before heading out to sea towards New Zealand.  Australian forecasters are saying this storm is very similar in size to the one that wiped out the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1998. 
 
 
 
TRN’s Head Weather Analyst says the storm is massive.  “This is a mini-cyclone with winds over 120km/h battering the Australian coastline and those gales are also expected later in the week for some parts of New Zealand”.  Mr Duncan says the storm is currently covering the entire Tasman Sea.  “It is still deepening and the centre is widening.  Basically the wide the ‘eye’ gets the lesser the winds will be, as the energy is spread over a much bigger area, but we’re still expecting some pretty hefty gusts”. 
 
Rain is expected to start falling today over much of New Zealand, spreading everywhere by tonight.  Mr Duncan says thunderstorms are also expected in northern regions this evening, some may bring some very heavy localised rainfalls. 
MetService is also keeping an eye on the storm, issuing a storm watch for several parts of New Zealand ranging from heavy rain in the north, to gales about Hawkes Bay, and possibly snow for Southern areas.
 
“The storm will arrive in two parts” says Mr Duncan. “Firstly rain and strong north easterlies today…then a bit of a breather on Thursday as the large centre of the storm moves over the country, which may trigger further thunderstorms.  Then the second part will hit on Friday.  As with any major storm once the ‘eye’ or centre passes over winds turn 180 degrees.  We’re expected severe south westerly winds to bring snow to the far South and gales to parts in the east starting Friday and easing Sunday”.
 
TRN’s Weather Watch Centre will closely monitor this storm over the next 5 days. 
 
GENERAL TIMELINE:
Wednesday – Low deepens in the Tasman Sea. Rain spreads from the north down the entire country as the first fronts arrive.  Thunderstorms develop in the far north tonight, some may be severe.
Thursday – Thundery rain eases for many, but unstable air means heavy thundery showers are possible in northern regions. Low moves across New Zealand and winds generally ease.
Friday – the low moves out into the Pacific and behind it, a strong bitterly cold south westerly blast.  Snow may fall in Southland and Otago. Westerly gales may blast Hawkes Bay.
Weekend – Snow, sleet, hail and even gales possible over southern areas south of Dunedin.  Strong cold south westerlies for everyone else, with showers.

 


STORM COULD BE A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

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LA NINA COULD BE FORMING
 
The two major storms that have formed in the Tasman Sea in the past week could be the strongest sign yet that a drought breaking “la Nina” is on the way according to the Radio Network’s head weather analyst.
“When La Nina forms we tend to get more depressions forming in the northern Tasman or Coral Seas bringing heavy rain to drought affected areas in both Australia and New Zealand” says Philip Duncan.
La Nina is the opposite of El Nino.  During El Nino warmer waters lie well east of New Zealand meaning rain bearing lows form east of New Zealand and once formed move even further away from us.  With La Nina the warmer waters lie west of New Zealand, therefore lows naturally travel south east towards us.  Mr Duncan says this has certainly been happening in the past week.
La Nina also brings warmer weather to New Zealand, and NIWA are predicting a 50% chance of La Nina forming.
Dry weather in both New Zealand and Australia has been caused by two El Nino’s in 2002 and then again for our past Spring and Summer.
“Just as droughts are common with El Nino, floods are common with La Nina.  Currently we are in a neutral phase, which means conditions are pretty average and we have neither la nina or el nino weather patterns” says Duncan.