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NZ – Weather facts & experiences

We’re on narrow islands in the middle of a vast pool of water and our weather can provide so many changes in short periods of time as we’re exposed to all sorts of elements.

We’ve got a couple of facts and stories in regards to extreme weather situations which we believe make for interesting reading

How windy is Wellington?
On 173 days a year, New Zealand’s breezy capital is buffeted by winds of over 60 km an hour. Gusts regularly reach 140 km an hour. The city’s strongest winds were an incredible 248 km an hour, at Hawkins Hill on 6 November 1959 and 4 July 1962. (This was just under the national record: on 18 April 1970, gusts of 250 km an hour hit Mt John in Canterbury.)

Hard frost
A spectacular frost occurred in Otago in early July 1991 when overnight air temperatures dropped below -15°C – for days in some places. The effect was chaos. Beer froze in pubs, water pipes burst, diesel turned to sludge, and rabbits with frostbitten ears were accused of cannibalism on national television. Exposed metal (such as gates) became so cold that skin froze to it on contact. 

In 2002 Paul Martin was running to avoid heavy rain. Suddenly he heard a loud bang and then saw a bright flash. Thinking he was on fire, he dropped into a gutter full of water. Lightning had entered through his back and gone out through his eye. He experienced brief heart complications, a graze on his back and some damage to his left retina, but survived the ordeal.

Just after finishing the morning milking in September 1990, Manukau dairy farmer Laurie Coe drove off on his four-wheel bike to see what was worrying his cows, who refused to leave the milking shed. Unable to see the approaching tornado because of heavy rain, he was suddenly thrown into a fence, then lifted into the sky. He was carried 100 metres before being slammed down into another paddock. He suffered only a stiff neck, sore back and a few minor bruises.

Do you have any information or stories you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them.
Simply post a comment below 🙂



Guest on 19/05/2013 1:14am

Some comment on the Wellington wind stats. The gust measurements at Kelburn are (last time I checked) taken on an instrument mounted on a tall pole in an open area atop the Gardens (over 120m ASL) – the pole can be seen from several km away – and do not represent what a person would generally experience at street level. With its complex topography Wellington has many spots which are relatively sheltered from at least one of the prevailing wind directions.

Even so, the 140kph value is not “regularly” exceeded even at the Kelburn instrument (Mt Kaukau top could be a different case) – a record from there for the period 1972-2008 shows that in over 13,000 observation days, just 35 of them exceeded 140kph – that’s about once per year, or 0.26% of days.

There is also the issue of persistence of windiness albeit it at lower speeds – Christchurch and Palmerston North are examples which should be considered in this context.

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