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BLOG : Philip Duncan reflects on Earth Hour, our Indian Summer and what lies ahead for April




Switching the power off for 61 minutes on Saturday night gave me the chance to have a good think about life. As Earth Hour kicked off I found myself wondering what I had gotten myself into. Sitting outside in the dark, trying to read the paper with candles that smelt of berry (I didn’t know they were scented…the making of them probably did far more damage to the environment than having my TV and lights on). Not that I needed candles…because at 8:05pm when I looked outside I realised that I was the only one in my street taking part in Earth Hour…and judging by the glare reflecting off the night time clouds, no one else across the city was taking part in it either. In fact, one of my neighbours seemed to have extra lights on… a giant flood light covered my deck making reading the paper a real breeze.
Still, the point of the moment sunk in. In fact, it wasn’t just sitting in semi-darkness on my own that made me think… it’s the entire season we’re in right now – Autumn. Not sure about you, but Autumn to me is a nostalgic time of year… something about flowers on most plants dying, lawns dusty and dry, and dead leaves starting to pile up under trees. It’s an “old” time… one that makes you think about things….and probably for most of us, we’re thinking “I don’t want summer to end!”.
So will it end? As a forecaster I can say with 100% accuracy…yes. When? … my percentage rate drops a little here. By the way, on a side note – hands up who’s looking forward to Daylight Savings ending? I want my extra hours sleep in the morning. Most people I’ve spoken seem to have a 50/50 opinion on whether more daylight savings was a good thing or not.  I guess it’s been good this year… but how will it be when we have a wintry March?
Anywho…i digress. The South Island seems to be getting into a bizarre mix of Summer and Winter. Very high temperatures (note I didn’t say “very warm temperatures”… a temperature can’t be warm or cold, it can only be high or low…so I’ve been told), anyway very high temperatures across the South Island in some areas but winter is knocking at the door. Thunderstorms rattled Southland and coastal areas from the Catlains up to Dunedin. Invercargill will be the first to ‘taste’ winter …daytime highs will soon take a hit dropping to the mid to lower teens, with frosts starting to pop up across Central Otago (like Sunday morning). Western areas will also see lower temperatures and a jump in rainfall numbers as more rain bearing fronts slide in. Eastern areas may still see some good temperatures yet as the nor’westers start to become more frequent.
In the North Island and with the high pressure systems moving further northward (hopefully!) increased rainfall should be expected in western areas from Wellington to Taranaki. Further north and it could still be dry (and much warmer than last year) right through April. The only positive news for Waikato farmers, is that sub tropical lows are far more likely this April than any April for the past few years.
Eastern areas in the North Island can probably expect average conditions, with cool nights and warm days.
These forecasts aren’t produced by computers…they’re based on gut instinct with the current and recent weather patterns we’ve been having. I’m not a fan of long range computer predictions…yet to be convinced in that area. 
So there we go – and great news for farmers too…with good rainfall across western areas of the North Island thanks to some sub tropical weather. 


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