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Opinion: Has spring arrived early this year?

Today may be the first of August and the start of the final month of winter – but from where I’m sitting, spring has already arrived.

I’m based in Auckland where t-shirt weather has been common this winter.  On Tuesday I had lunch in Titirangi, in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges.  Despite being up in the forest in the absolute depths of winter I was wearing a t-shirt and sitting outside.  Others were too.  Some brave and pasty legged souls wore shorts.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks pruning and gardening – but since I pruned just 14 days ago some plants already show signs of regrowth. 

The grass is now growing and highs across the country are making it into the late teens and low 20s this winter.  August looks to be even warmer than July too.

Some regions normally have severe frosts by this time of the year, but many New Zealanders are telling us frosts are lighter this year and few and far between.  We certainly aren’t getting the news stories about pipes bursting and roads being closed due to major black ice.

In Hawkes Bay private forecaster James Morrison told me on Twitter “apart from a few frosts we haven’t had winter in Hawkes Bay”.

Last month reported on buds starting to bloom as far south as Christchurch.

The forecast for August shows two sub-tropical lows in the first half alone and plenty of winds from the west and north west.  All this adds up to a forecast that is fairly mild in our view.

In fact, another unusual aspect of this winter – it’s starting to become dry.  Many in the north are asking when it will rain with conditions drying out.  One WeatherWatch reader told us she has had to order water for their animals.  The two sub-tropical lows will also bring much wanted rain to the upper North Island.

No major winter snaps are being predicted in the first half of August either, but there may be a few brief southerlies. 

Lambs are being born, flowers are starting to bloom and daytime highs are now reaching late teens on a frequent basis – try telling someone in Europe, Canada or the US that this is truly the “depths of winter”!

I stand by my comments I’ve been making for several years – that New Zealand really only gets two months of winter weather and two months of truly summer weather – allowing the other eight months to be Autumn and Spring.

Despite the warmer weather coming in, it still all ties in with our ‘chaotic’ weather pattern this year.  All year we’ve had fairly mild weather but with some pretty sharp cold snaps.  In New Zealand our location means wintry snaps with heavy snow to low levels are possible as late as October – and snowy blasts have been known to hit as late as Nov and Dec. 

The second half of August may become colder, but at this stage we see no strong evidence of this.  It’s worth noting the event that brought snow to Northland and Auckland in 2011 occurred in mid-August.

While wintry blasts can easily continue through the next two months ahead, the odds are starting to stack up against any of those cold events lingering for more than a few days because as we head towards, and through, September the equinox winds start to build .  This significantly limits southerly spells in New Zealand by blowing them out into the Pacific and often limiting the days it can linger over us.  Right now – we see no major cold blasts on the horizon, although a few cold days with southerlies are expected in the coming week or two.

Of course with more rain coming in the weather perhaps won’t be quite so “outdoorsy” in August – but with at least three or fours highs also expected it’s not just going to be an “indoors’ month either.

– Image / WW

– Column by head weather analyst Philip Duncan. 

Do you agree with Philip, has spring arrived where you are? Or is it still very much winter?!


surf chch on 1/08/2013 5:07am

hey ww yea feels like heat pump on for over a week so far in chch.yes cheaper power bill.going for a surf still got the hell bight to it brrrrr.

Guest on 1/08/2013 1:49am

I am also in Whangarei and usually at this time of the year my pot plants are dying from too much water, this year they are so dry I have to keep watering them! Also just today I looked out the window at work and a neighbours plum tree has blossoms just starting on it!

Derek on 1/08/2013 12:42am

Whangarei too has been sort of “T” shirt weather during many sunny days, cannot say if spring has arrived but some things are certainly showing up on my wife’s roses. Grass growth has been minimal and I have not cut it for over a month which is definitely unusual and we do need some rain for sure.
I agree with you about winter being about 2 months etc, have always thought along those lines myself. I also have trouble differentiating the seasons up here as I feel there are no real lines between them like down south etc.

We are awaiting this sub low to hit, winds have picked up with the feel like temp much lower than the actual, really hope we do not have the massive heavy rain Met Service are predicting for this area, need some but not torrential stuff.

Guest on 1/08/2013 12:33am

winter has just been a tease this year…

Pip on 31/07/2013 11:02pm

It certainly feels like it in Welly, though I keep reminding myself it snowed in August not that many years ago!

Claire on 31/07/2013 9:51pm

Here in Auckland, I have just arrived home at 9am after staying the night at my parents’ place, and although my house has not had any heating on for 24 hours, it’s still a pleasant 17 degrees inside. The sparrows have started chasing each other around the garden. The Golden Wattles are blooming and dropping pollen all over the footpaths. It definitely feels like spring already. I’m pleased, since we had that very cold patch in May, which would have made the winter feel very long if it wasn’t already warming up now.

Another thing I’ve noticed – minimal green growth on the south side of the house. Normally it needs water-blasting every year, but currently it looks pristine.

Marcus on 31/07/2013 7:33pm

Like James Morrison said, we haven’t had our winter here in Hawkes Bay.
The past few weeks have had light frosty mornings and warm sunny days!
Spring is in the air as far as we are concerned.

sw on 31/07/2013 7:33pm

Not really,mild nights here due to persistant cloud cover is why it feels milder,no frosts however.Remember all of August to go plus september and october often bite us in the bum when lambing etc begins so not over yet.

Ben on 4/08/2013 1:04am

What a shock SW has some glass 100% empty comment to say.

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