Was Monday the coldest day of 2011?


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Monday may well have been the coldest day of 2011 says WeatherWatch.co.nz following a massive polar outbreak not seen in many years across New Zealand.

The national high was just 12 degrees recorded in Northland yesterday.   Only several centres reached double digits with the majority of the country reaching single digit highs, mostly between 4 and 8 degrees.

See how warm it was where you were yesterday

WeatherWatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan says while polar outbreaks can occur at any time over Winter and right through Spring he said it was unlikely that the country, overall, would be as cold again for the rest of the year.

"Clearly we can't completely rule out the possibility of another major polar blast but with temperatures soon about to rise with longer sunlight hours and spring just a few weeks away it would be surprising to see another outbreak as bitterly cold as this one".

Mr Duncan says regionally people may have colder days to come but overall temperatures in New Zealand will slowly start to rise during August as the days gain an extra hour of sunlight compared to the shortest day back on June 22nd.

"That extra hour of heating by the end of August will make a small difference but a noticeable one".

Mr Duncan says farmers are now heading into lambing season and that polar blasts and snow storms pose more of a threat than just "cold weather".   

"Often in spring we can get very heavy snow as incoming warm moist air meets outgoing cold Antarctic air over New Zealand - spring weather tends to be very violent and chaotic and produces some of our wildest weather of the year".

Last year, during a fairly mild September, New Zealand was hit by a storm similar to the 10 day storm that blasted us a few weeks ago.  While most of New Zealand was affected by stormy weather it was the snow storm that hit Southland that caused the biggest problem for farmers, with snow and wind chills killing half a million lambs but mild temperatures were felt elsewhere.

"Basically a short winter doesn't mean a settled spring, even if spring turns out to be mild like much of this winter has been until lately.  We can never remove the possibility of snow storms".

In rare cases snow has been known to fall to low levels in the South Island and about Central Plateau as late as Christmas and New Year and start again as early as February.

- Homepage image / Snow in Halswell on Sunday, Gary Garner

- WeatherWatch.co.nz