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Land of the long grey cloud continues

Summer continues to back-fire as more cloud, wind and low temperatures affect a number of regions yet again – but says there’s still enough time for things to warm up further…but only just.

As the first national long weekend of the year gets underway continues to buck the trend of other forecasters saying that cloud will blanket many regions and windy weather will continue off and on too.

“We do expect some sunny weather but the majority of regions will have cloud and many North Island regions will deal with breezy to brisk easterlies and even some drizzle” says Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan.

But Mr Duncan says our weather could be a lot worse.  “We have tropical storms to our north, Southern Ocean storms to our south and another low to our east – we also have a stream of cloud pouring in from Australia from across the Tasman.  The most settled weather in the south Pacific is actually currently over New Zealand and just to our south east”.

The easterly wind flow means places like Timaru, Christchurch, Masterton, Napier, Hastings and Gisborne – centres which are normally in the late 20s or low to mid 30s by now – will struggle to even climb into the 20s, with highs predicted this weekend of 17 to 22 degrees.

But easterlies favour hotter, brighter, weather for western areas, which may develop as the weekend goes on.

“We have a high that is just, and I mean ‘just’ holding on to New Zealand – it’s enough to hold back the tropical lows but the pressure gradient means easterlies will be brisk at times this weekend, especially on the edge of the high which is mainly over the North Island”.

Mr Duncan says drizzle will mostly affect eastern parts of the North Island but wind flow is everything.  “The huge difficulty in making accurate weather predictions under conditions like this is figuring out the exact wind direction.  Last weekend all forecasters missed perfectly predicting Auckland’s weather simply because the wind direction shifted slightly more south west – dragging in plenty of cloud instead of clear skies with a southerly.  This weekend, with so much cloud around, a slight change in wind could be the difference between cloudy and gloomy or fairly sunny”.

But the overall prediction remains the same – a lot of cloud around the nation.

February is traditionally the hottest time of the year for most parts of the country but the first half of this month doesn’t look especially sunny and hot, even if conditions do feel muggier in the north.

The tropics are continuing to fire up with more high risk for flooding in the tropical islands this weekend.  “We’re seeing a number of lows merging together, to roughly cover the size of Australia’s interior, directly north of New Zealand.  It is impressively large for that part of the globe.  New Zealand is mostly protected from it but the islands to our north will be in for more wind, rain and thunderstorms this weekend and next week”.

And Australia isn’t doing much better. says the south is about to be hammered by a large storm while northern Australia is dealing with La Nina easterlies and plenty of rain and humidity.

Meanwhile Perth and other parts of western Australia are again dealing with rain.  The normally very dry region is being hit by the remnants of Cyclone Iggy – which yesterday was still a category 2 tropical cyclone, but is now technically an ex-cyclone. says the transition into Autumn this year for New Zealand may be fairly unnoticeable with Autumn like temperatures already affecting many parts of New Zealand. 

“Think of the seasons as the speed zones on our highways – summer is the 100 zone and Autumn the 70…so far we’ve been travelling at 70km/h for most of this summer so the transition into the Autumn  70km zone will make no difference, we just keep on going as we’ve been going” says Mr Duncan.

In other words, no dramatic cooling is expected when Summer officially ends in 4 weeks and similar temperatures may continue on into April.  If sky conditions clear further it could mean a very pleasant Autumn for many – but at this stage isn’t prepared to make an Autumn prediction, saying the weather is simply too chaotic to predict beyond a few weeks at the moment.

– Homepage image / Dylan Ray




Guest on 3/02/2012 6:45am

I don’t understand this. This year’s weather is caused by La Nina and it is shocking. Last year we also had a La Nina – somewhat stronger I think but the weather was marvelous. What is the difference.
Are there several La Nina versions?
Any explanation would be most appreciated.

WW Forecast Team on 4/02/2012 12:07am

Hi Heike

A very good question! Yes you’re right, we do have a La Nina episode at the moment – and yes last years was much stronger.  However La Nina is just one factor of the weather… La Nina’s bring warmer ocean temperatures to the south west Pacific and that produces more lows in the north – and that tends to lead to more cloud, easterlies and humidity.

However that is just the general trend – La Nina isn’t responsible for every cloud or wet day we have. 

So last year was very active – and we saw a lot of tropical lows and cyclones.

This year is less active and we’ve had a lot less tropical lows and cyclones.

However we have had a lot more cloud and what many are calling "miserable" weather this summer – some of that has to do with La Nina but mostly it’s because the highs that have been coming in have been a) not dropping anchor over NZ and lingering and b) they have been big highs – and the bigger the high the more isobars you have around it,. and therefore the more ‘weather" it can bring in – ie, more cloud, more wind, more cold, more heat – all pulled in by the isobars which mark the area where the winds are.

So this summer has been a messy chaotic one, not directly related to La Nina but a combination of things.

If you’re still a bit confused don’t worry – so are many forecasters.  This is what we describe as "chaotic" weather and makes our jobs extra difficult! 

The overall La Nina / El Nino trends can be used to predict – overall – what we’re likely to get over a season, but every La Nina event is different.


Philip Duncan

JohnGaul on 3/02/2012 4:52am

Traditionally, this week which is usually the hottest week of the year, does looks like to be a fizzer with no high temperatures looking likely.


Guest on 3/02/2012 3:05am

So summer is far from over, but at what point can you start making seasonal forecasts for what sort of winter we can expect this year. I will probably be most unpopular for even raising the prospect of winter weather, but we are in the South, and last winter actually brought plenty of sun and dry days. With Europe and the US getting hit with heavy snow, when do you think we can look to winter cycle predictions?

WW Forecast Team on 3/02/2012 3:44am

Hi, thanks for the question. doesn’t provide seasonal forecasts – but NIWA do.  NIWA usually issue their predictions a month out from the season – so probably early May.  Looks like we may be headed to neutral weather conditions with La Nina fading – that could mean we have a chaotic winter with warm days and cold ones (like last year) – or it may be more traditional with westerlies dominating.  At this stage no signs of any other big climate features at play – but to be honest that isn’t our area of expertise and you may want to contact someone at NIWA.

The weather patterns occuring in the Northern Hemisphere rarely have any direct relevance to what happens here in NZ – which is what makes being a weather forecaster in NZ such an exciting job, we never truly know what Mother Nature will throw at us.


– Philip Duncan

Guest on 3/02/2012 12:23am

Hey Guys,

What do you think are the chances of showers tomorrow for Auckland could it be worse then today


WW Forecast Team on 3/02/2012 12:37am

Hi there – definitely a reduced risk of showers tomorrow, but still some risk – roughly 20% chance (as opposed to today which had been 60%).

Keep up to date with our forecasts though… very fine line between dry and wet this weekend, and many of these drizzle bands don’t get detected by the MetService radar.

– WW

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