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Blog: Unsettled weather patterns

Read other weather blogs by Philip Duncan by clicking this NZHerald weather link.

The world seems gripped in unsettled, and in some cases severe, weather patterns at the moment. From the bitterly cold temperatures in England to the extremely cold arctic blast sweeping over Canada and USA, to the flooding in Fiji, the thunderstorms in Australia and recently huge temperatures in the South Island and spectacular hail and lightning storm over the North Island.

Passengers on board the US Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson River in New York yesterday were very lucky to be so close to land. The water temperature was near freezing – around 5 degrees Celsius – the wind chill was minus 15…and on wet skin that would’ve felt even worse. If they were further out to sea some may have died from hypothermia.

North America is being blasted by fiercely cold arctic weather – temperatures in America and Canada have dropped into the minus 20s and 30s (that’s Celsius I might add) with wind chills going into the minus 40s. The human body can’t survive long in temperatures that low.  The coldest I’ve ever felt was – 24 degrees at Lake Louise near Calgary. I can’t imagine – 40!

Closer to home and to the serious flooding in Fiji – due to the relentless tropical rains… basically Fiji is lying under a convergence zone – an area where heavy rains and thunderstorms develop. It’s not like a cyclone, it’s just a long line of rain and thunderstorms that wont move away fast.  There is some good news – latest forecasts out today indicate a high might move in next week, shunting this active line of thunderstorms and rain further south.

Here in New Zealand more heavy rain has returned to the West Coast and hot winds have made a return to the east coast. Yesterday it was 36 degrees in Culverden with a string of other South Island centres in the low 30s.

Today we’ll see that front in the south move northwards…it’ll weaken considerably as it heads north, bringing only a few showers tonight or early Sunday for Auckland northwards.

In the east winds from the northwest will create big highs again – back up into the 30s or late 20s for many. This includes eastern Coromandel and Bay of Plenty too, which I classify as both northern and eastern regions.

My predictions back in early December of roughly one front per week seems to be continuing well into January – I think this is a good mix of rain and sun for holidaymakers and farmers. 

As you can see on the satellite map to the right the front is moving up the country… as of 2:30pm it was almost at Cook Strait.



Douglas on 17/01/2009 8:04am

Attributing fronts to cloud is a common mistake. The front was nowhere near Cook Strait at 2:30PM. It will be in Cook Strait at about 1AM. What you were looking at is the leading edge of cloud (lots of high cloud and mid level cloud); it is not the front.

WW Forecast Team on 17/01/2009 8:13am

Fair point Douglas – it was a generalised term about the entire frontal system moving towards the middle of the country.  The front is usually at the back edge of that cloud.  That cloud mass, moving into Cook Strait, is associated with the front and that was what Philip meant.

Weather Watch

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