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March – Dry as a bone for some

No surprises that March was so dry with many regions declared drought zones and the stats are proving what we already had guessed.

Around 20 percent of normal March rainfall recorded in parts of Northland, Bay of Plenty, and Hawkes Bay, and under 60 percent of March normal rainfall recorded for most of the North Island, West Coast South Island and Southland. There were only one or two excpetions with well above normal March rainfall for the Kapiti and Kaikoura coast regions.

It was the driest March on record for Whakatane, Motu, Ohakune, Westport, Tiwai Point, and Balclutha. In contrast, the lower North Island and the upper South Island were much wetter than normal for March, with the Kapiti Coast receiving 170 percent of normal March rainfall (over one-and-a-half times normal rainfall), and Kaikoura recording 200 percent of normal rainfall for March (double March normal rainfall).

Sunshine figures were also high for the month.An extremely sunny March for most of the North Island south of Auckland, as well as west of the Southern Alps. Above normal sunshine hours for Auckland, Marlborough, Otago, and Southland. Near normal sunshine hours for March took hold elsewhere.

Mean temperatures were well above average (more than 1.2°C above the March average) across northern and central North Island, and southern and western South Island. March temperatures were above average (0.5°C to 1.2°C above March average) for most other regions, except Gisborne and Marlborough (near average temperatures there).

Standout features for the month are as follows…

• The highest temperature was 34.3 °C, recorded at Gisborne on 18 March.
• The lowest temperature was -0.5°C, observed at Mt Cook on both 19 and 20 March.
• The highest 1-day rainfall was 208 mm, recorded at Milford Sound on 24 March.
• The highest wind gust was 135 km/hr, at Cape Turnagain, on 4 March.
• Of the six main centres in March 2013, Tauranga was the equal-driest and sunniest, Christchurch was equal-driest and equal-cloudiest, Auckland was the warmest, Dunedin was coolest and equal-cloudiest, and Wellington was wettest.
• Of the available, regularly reporting sunshine observation sites, the sunniest four centres so far in 2013 (January to March) are New Plymouth (928 hours), Whakatane (885 hours), Paraparaumu (855 hours), and Lake Tekapo (830 hours).


WeatherWatch & NIWA


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