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Column: Warm exit to winter that’s going nowhere

It’s quite possible that we will hardly have a winter this year. It’s a bold prediction, but not without its merits.

As one of the strongest La Ninas in our lifetime disappears we’re left without any major driving force for our weather pattern. In my view that means more lows from the Tasman Sea and sub-tropical region.

It doesn’t mean brutal southerlies aren’t possible – they are. But it does mean the overall trend should be a wetter and warmer one.

La Nina may be over but in its wake is a weather pattern that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

The conditions that have brought us our warmest May on record are making no immediate exit. There is no strong evidence of a permanent change to winter, despite a cold snap predicted for next weekend.

Forget an early start to spring: some people are already reporting spring conditions. Sounds crazy, right? Just look at these comments from WeatherWatch’s Facebook page this week.

“Daffodils and other plants blooming here in shakytown,” says Tony Sharpe of Christchurch.

Further north in Hawke’s Bay, Helen Burnett says: “I have seen quite a few daffodils around in Hastings. Keep thinking to myself, it’s not daffodil time yet is it?”

The story is the same elsewhere. “Daffodils, ducklings, grass growing like wildfire and trees budding up even though they are halfway through losing their leaves,” says Lisa McKenzie, near Otorohanga. And if you’re one of those “grass is always greener in Australia” types, then look at these stats: while New Zealand had its warmest May on record, Sydney and Melbourne have had their coldest in more than 40 years.

Also, a clarification: in last week’s column I mentioned that the Joplin tornado was the United States’ deadliest on record.

I should have said “on modern record”. The tornado that roared through Joplin was the deadliest to hit American soil since the National Weather Service began keeping records 61 years ago.

– Homepage image / Zelda Wynn

– Philip Duncan writes a weekly column for the Herald on Sunday


Guest on 5/06/2011 6:34pm

Our strawberries are flowering and forming fruit!

Guest on 5/06/2011 9:15am

the prediction for this winter is likely to be more frequent warm northerlies, bringing warmer teperatures and weak cold spells. very warm in Auckland: 22 degrees; very close to that record june high it doesn’t feel like winter already.

Zelda Wynn on 5/06/2011 7:40am

LOL, your bold prediction will be wrong 🙂 Months to come will see us shivering, right up till December I predict.

Guest on 5/06/2011 4:23am

Considering there were a few days of cool weather down here in the deep south, the spring flowers are blooming as well as a summer plant – never seen that one do it before. All I can say is, enjoy it while it lasts…

Rachel Jennings on 5/06/2011 3:19am

Please tell me there is hope for a decent snowboarding season in the South Island?

WW Forecast Team on 5/06/2011 5:08am

Well there could be a snowy blast next weekend followed by a large high…but at the same time another sub-tropical low may also be forming.  Very messy weather pattern – quite unpredictable.

– WW Weekends

Annie on 5/06/2011 2:24am

I saw a Magnolia tree in full bloom in Auckland last week!

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