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A ‘white Xmas’ in NZ, but a green one in USA/Canada?

When El Nino zigs in Australasia it zags in North America.  The weather across New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Canada right now is showing signs of being, well, upside down almost.

New Zealanders have shivered through cold nights this week, with even using the ‘frost’ word twice this December.

On Twitter this morning from Ashburton, former District Councillor Jac Sparks tweeted (@WeatherWatchNZ) “@Jacdaw: Dreaming of a White Christmas?” and attached this photo showing a decent amount of snow to low levels on the ranges:

Image / Canterbury looking more like winter than summer today / Jac Sparks

But by Monday Canterbury will be hitting 30 to 35 degrees.

By Wednesday, 15 or 16 degrees.

While the headline is nice, there won’t be much of a White Christmas anywhere in NZ – although the recent snow means certainly the mountain tops will be whiter than previous December 25ths.  No unusual weather is expected in New Zealand on Christmas Day at this stage.

But it’s not just New Zealand seeing wild weather so far this month.  Australia was hit by a powerful tornado this week, breaking wind speed records in the city as 200km/h+ winds destroyed buildings and cars. The damaging tornado came just days after a tornado outbreak across Canterbury on Sunday.

In America rain storms have hit drought ravaged California, while further north in Canada’s British Columbia, a province well known for being wet, heavy rain warnings have been issued daily on a number of weeks.

El Nino sees wet weather shift from areas like New Zealand and Queensland (south west Pacific) to the western coast of the Americas (eastern Pacific).  As a result, areas that are usually very dry in the US, are getting rain and snow.  Snow has fallen in Albuquerque this month (the city from the TV series Breaking Bad, with vast baron deserts surrounding it).  Las Vegas has also had a snow storm and biting cold weather recently.

But east of the Rocky Mountains and both US and Canadian citizens are talking about one thing – the warmth.

In Toronto flowers are still blooming just a week out from the shortest day of the year.  Previous winters have seen snow drifts towering as high as two storey houses down most suburban streets.  But this December Canada’s largest city looks more like NZ in winter with flowers still blooming and the lawns still green with grass.  Even overnight lows are struggling to go below zero, meaning ice fishing can’t start until ponds and lakes freeze over – and freeze over properly. 

In New York the city is likely to have a warm Christmas Day with no snow on the ground and a high of possibly 17 degrees.  A far cry from countless movies set in the city at Christmas time showing snowy streets.

Meanwhile in Texas the city of Houston is shaping up to have a scorching hot Christmas Day.  The city normally averages a high of 17C around December 25 but this year a high of 27 to 29 degrees with thunderstorms is likely.  

The El Nino summer in NZ, and El Nino winter in North America, is only just getting started.  It looks likely to break a few records here in New Zealand, over in Australia and across to America and Canada.

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