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You know the South Island’s West Coast has a reputation for being a wet, cold, place…maybe it’s global warming talking but I’m yet to see proof that this is New Zealand’s wet, grey, miserable region!

Since setting up the Weather Watch Centre two years ago I’ve paid particularly close attention to this part of New Zealand.  Why?  Because it usually gets our weather first.   It may receive more lightning strikes than any other part of New Zealand and it may also receive quite a few small tornadoes… and it definitely receives the most rain in the country… but over the past two years (since I’ve been monitoring anyway) I’ve started to believe that the forecasts generated for this area are unfair!  Call it a Government conspiracy…(disclaimer: I don’t think it’s a Govt conspiracy…hold back your lawyers!)…but it feels like every forecast for every day has a big rain icon on it… but to be honest, there are very few places in New Zealand – including the West Coast – that receive more than 24 hours of solid rain.  We’re not that sort of country…we’re two tiny islands on the western side of the greatest ocean on earth.  Severe weather doesn’t linger here…it has other things to do, other islands to see…well…actually, no, only the Chathams then it’s off to the middle of no where…but you get my drift. 

While the North Island’s west coast was battered by thunder, hail and gales two weeks ago, the  South Island’s west coast – for most of the time – hung their washing out to dry under a blue dome sky and gentle breezes.

There is one thing I tire of – and I’ve said this a million times before – I wonder why on earth rain warnings for Fiordland make the news.   Seriously – it’s a RAIN forest!  While the warnings need to be issued to protect the lives of true kiwis who set off on big hikes, the other 4.1 million Kiwis couldn’t care less.  So lets get a little perspective.  Not every piece of severe weather in New Zealand is a headline story.

I have to laugh, I was reading some blogs the other day and I saw someone who mocked my comment about last weekends polar blast.  In an interview on Prime News I said that if you “placed another 2 towers on top of Sky Tower, it would be snowing at the top”.   I read comments on this blog along the lines of “If you stand 10kms over Christchurch you’ll find it’s very cold!” or “If you were to place Auckland at Scott Base you’ll find it was -25”!

I thought my analogy was good!?! But I do appreciate those of you south of the Bombays who get annoyed when they hear Aucklanders freaking out when a day time high drops below 15 degrees.  Point taken.  Although my comment was obviously still news worthy!

This week Greymouth and other West Coast towns will see a few showers but actually it will, once again, be the warmest area in the South Island.  I say ‘once again’ because the West Coast is frequently milder than eastern or southern areas.  The coldest winds in New Zealand come from either the South or the South East.  Both of those wind directions are blocked by the Southern Alps…take a look at the satellite map on the right hand side of the page if you don’t believe me!  Winds from the South and East have to climb over mountains to reach this area…and while not as dramatic, it has the same warming qualities of a nor’wester along the nation’s east coast. 

So while most South Island regions struggle to reach 8 to 12 degrees this week, the West Coast is likely to bathe in the tropical warmth of 14 to 16 degrees. 

The North Island will also enjoy much warmer weather this week.  After a week of severe frosts last week, this one is shaping up to be a couple degrees warmer during the day and several degrees warmer at night thanks to cloud cover and a few showers – especially later in the week.


Do you agree or disagree with Philip Duncan’s blog?  Post your comments here!


Guest on 13/07/2008 7:20pm

I agree, drop Fiordlands weather forecast from the National forecast. We don’t need to know about it here in Auckland.

Guest on 13/07/2008 9:44pm

And that just shows how ignorant some Aucklands can be.

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