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BLOG – When’s winter arriving? And some rain?

I have a good way of working out when the winter weather has started – I light my fire for the first time. So far, I haven’t done this yet. In fact, despite a couple of cold nights last week I’ve found the evenings relatively warm and the days certainly very mild so far this April. Actually April is turning out to be a very dry month for many places in the north and east of both islands. I’m not sure when our first major winter storm will be but I’m thinking it wont be in April. Highs are still rolling over from Tasmania and northern New Zealand seems especially protected. So in my mind it feels mild this April with the ground certainly drying out again.

So when is the next rain band on the way? Well there’s perhaps a slight change in weather patterns coming up. The high that brought mostly dry weather to the nation over Easter will stick around over the North Island this week. By mid to late this week rain bands will build along the South Island’s west but hardly a drop will spill over to the east. However I’m watching the weather patterns heading in to this weekend and early next week. Computer models have been consistent over the past few days at predicting one or two lows forming in the Tasman Sea – one may even be a sub-tropical low. It’s too far out to be sure if it will make landfall here but check back for my blog updates throughout this week.

A sub-tropical low is what we need… farms and gardens are again drying out in many regions and a good soaking from the north would be perfect. This is also the time of year farmers spread fertiliser across the paddocks (and it’s good to do it in the gardens too) and rain is needed to dissolve the fertiliser into the ground. This weekend is certainly looking more promising than it has been over the past month. But will it rain in the east? Hawkes Bay is desperate for rain yet again but unfortunately this system appears to be coming in from the west, or north west. I’ll keep you updated on these two lows and lets hope they bring some rain to the country – for the sake of water tanks, farms and gardens anyway…and if you have a wedding this weekend I hope it’s stops raining in time for the photos. I’m trying to please everyone.

I was looking back in the Weather Watch Archives yesterday and it was this week last year that New Zealanders were shocked to learn the loss of 8 lives in a flash flooding disaster in Central Plateau. It was our deadliest weather event in 40 years, since the Waihine Disaster. It’s a sobering reminder to us all that as an outdoors nation we need to have a better understanding of the weather. Not just be aware of weather warnings, but also be aware of where weather systems are coming from and when a warning is issued, what level of severity is that warning. The weather in this country is quite changeable and difficult to predict at times. We need to understand the many microclimates and weather systems to keep a close eye on. It’s a hard job balancing what is interesting to read about (say a potential tropical cyclone) alongside not hyping an event. I think in New Zealand we have a very good balance. One positive thing about the recession is that it’ll probably stop the TV networks from sending reporters out all over the country to report “live” from a storm…when it’s dry and calm…a bit of a let down for the viewer.

It’s certainly my job to talk about weather events affecting us/potentially affecting us…then up to the news rooms to decide whether or not that needs to be released into the mainstream media as a news story. 9 times out of 10 the stories aren’t used, so I think we have a good balance of weather coverage…I can talk about all the weather events here, within a weather forum, then for the bigger or more newsworthy events websites such as and will give those stories the exposure they need.

Over Easter it was good to see that no severe weather affected holidaymakers across the country. While I like a good storm I prefer the timing to be outside of long weekends. The next set of severe weather should arrive in the South Island on Wednesday. MetService has a severe weather watch in place for heavy rain right up the West Coast and severe gales across Southland, Otago and inland Canterbury. With the high pressure system remaining in the North Island mostly settled weather should remain all week – although it’ll likely remain cloudy in the west and windy around Wellington. If you’re in Auckland and you’re sick of the cloud – there’s at least a week of it on the way. Today looks to be the sunniest day of all.   Read our independent Auckland forecast here – right up to this Sunday.

Read Philip Duncan’s other weather blogs at here.


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