+ The first official Christmas Day forecast! (see bottom of page)
It’s been a year of severe weather for the far North, far East, far South and far West, with major weather systems impacting life in Northland, Hawkes Bay, Southland and Taranaki. In a year that has had El Nino, a neutral period, and now La Nina, it has certainly been 12 months of big highs big lows. While severe weather touched both islands the most frequent storms were limited to the Northland and Southland. Quite different to 2006 when severe weather mainly impacted central regions such as Canterbury, Wellington and to a lesser extent, Auckland.
Here’s a look back at 2007 and the weather that created the headlines.
QUICK STATS FOR ON-AIR:
January – Auckland reaches 32degrees with the humidex in January – exclusive Weather Watch story that makes the headlines in the UK.
March – Winds of 140km/h hit Auckland. Damage to property. Another storm later in the month causes massive floods for Northland – over 400mm in 24 hours in some areas.
May – warmest May for New Zealand since records began in 1850! (Global warming maybe?)
July – numerous tornadoes hit Taranaki, plus Auckland & Tauranga. A major storm blasts Northland and Auckland, with gusts to 180km/h, equivalent to a category 2 or 3 cyclone.
August – a storm the size of Australia slides past Southland with winds to 135km/h
October – 1047 lightning strikes recorded in 1 hour are recorded on the Auckland lightning detector. Plus a gust of 148km/h recorded in Stokes Valley on the 8th, with gales on a number of days in Wellington reaching 130km/h.
November – Christchurch drops 5 degrees in 100 seconds, with a total of 12 degrees lost in 50 minutes as a cold front passes by after hot nor’westers.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY: Humid weather moves into Auckland. Humidex (temperature + humidity) measures 32 degrees. Met Office in the UK headlines this story exclusively from TRN’s Weather Watch Centre.
MARCH: First winter storm of 2007 slams the country. The Weather Watch Centre issued a Storm Alert for Auckland as winds reach 140km/h in Auckland, felling trees, lifting roofs and blowing property away. Heavy snow blanketed Queenstown, diverting flights and affecting 700 people.
A late storm in March broke the records in Northland as torrential rain cut the region off from the rest of New Zealand. A number of towns and farms were badly affected.
MAY: The headline read “I am in more trouble now…that I’ve ever been in the past”. Farmer Steve Wyn-Harris comments on the major drought affecting the North Island’s east coast farmers.
Meanwhile record breaking warmth covered the South Island, with Otago and Canterbury 2.5 degrees above normal. One morning saw Auckland on 6 and Ashburton on 16. Nationally, May was the warmest on record since records began in 1850.
JUNE: In the month that TRN’s Weather Watch Centred turned One a severe cold blast hit the lower South Island. “Conditions diabolical” according to local reporter Malcolm Gayfor.
On June 11th it was announced that veteran Meteorologist Augie Auer had died of a heart attack while overseas. On that same day, rain fell over Hawke’s Bay breaking the drought.
Also in June a “mini cyclone” engulfed the entire Tasman Sea. It was the first in a series of 8 significant Tasmean Sea lows, indicating La Nina was developing. Most of these systems affected the Far North.
On the 22nd of June, a small tornado made breaking news as it hit Invercargill damaging 5 homes.
JULY: The Weather Watch Centre was first to issue thunderstorm warnings for Taranaki, two hours later the first in a series of violent Tornadoes hit the Taranki district. Over 2 days several touched down causing major damage in Taranaki, but also in Auckland and Tauranga.
The Weather Watch Centre was also first to alert listeners to a major storm moving into the Northland and Auckland regions. Winds near Paihia initially reached 146km/h but as they moved towards Auckland they climbed up to 180km/h on the Hauraki Gulf . If the storm had been a tropical cyclone it would’ve been a Category 2 or 3 storm. Power was cut to Auckland and Coromandel, some places for up to a week. For many, it was a very long, scary, night.
AUGUST: Winds reach 135km/h in the far south as a storm the “size of Australia” rolled past in the Southern Ocean. The storm was so far south it missed the rest of New Zealand.
SEPTEMBER: On the 4th a brief and minor snow storm affected parts of Canterbury. Unbelievably it turned out to be the only real cold snap of Spring. The rest of the Month was mainly sunny, settled and warm.
OCTOBER: And a whole new ball game. A staggering 1047 lightning strikes were picked up on the Auckland lightning detector in just 60 minutes. Many severe weather warnings issued by MetService, with Wellington, Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay most affected, with numerous wind warnings. Winds frequently reached over 130km/h with one gust to 148km/h in Stokes Valley (Wellington) on October 8th.
Despite the stormy weather, Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan announces at the end of October that a “significant change” in weather patterns means “Summer will arrive early in Novemeber”.
NOVEMBER: Back to calm again, with Summer-like temperatures spreading to many places and winds dying out. Howevere a short lived cold snap on November 25th saw Christchurch drop 5 degrees in 100 seconds, with a total of 12 degrees in 50 minutes.
DECEMBER: So far it’s been a text book La Nina December. A huge high to the east of NZ has meant incredibly humid nor’easterlies for northern New Zealand, while temperatures in the South Island have been over 30 degrees thanks to the dry nor’wester. Very dry in Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago with fears that dry weather so early in the season means it could be a tough few months ahead for farmers in the South.
CHRISTMAS DAY? Opinion from Philip Duncan
Well everyone wants to know this! To be honest, a forecast this early out won’t be too accurate. I’ll have a better idea by Wednesday. But at this stage, it’s unfortunately looking “changeable”…what I mean by that is that a large high should move eastwards as a deep low to the south moves by. It’s all about timing. Best place to be is most likely eastern areas from Bay of Plenty to Hawkes Bay. Potentially, there could be strong winds over the South Island and Wellington, with a few showers in western areas. Warm in the north but possibly cold in the far south. As I say, don’t get too depressed about that! It’s early days yet, but that is what the long range models are predicting. More info here soon!