Forecasters at WeatherWatch.co.nz say the chance of another snow storm this winter and into spring remains “high”, reinforcing their prediction made over two months ago in Autumn. With lambing and calving now getting underway farmers are being advised to be especially vigilant with the forecasts over the next 12 weeks.
“We have no La Nina and no El Nino – we have neutral conditions and that means we’re exposed to all the extremes” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. “With La Nina and El Nino we have a driving force, for example more easterlies and more sub-tropical lows with La Nina. Right now we can have a real mixed bag of weather and that’s exactly what we’re getting – a snowy blast one day, a sub-tropical low the next, then settled for a week. We’re getting a mixture of everything”.
It’s because of this chaotic formula that WeatherWatch.co.nz said three months ago there was a higher risk for snow this winter and spring despite a predicted mild winter. “We have maintained since Autumn that winter would be short and mild this year, overall that has been the case. As we head officially towards spring we’re now seeing the biggest storms of the year in the Southern Ocean – if one is coupled with a big high west of New Zealand it could help drive in a big southerly and again bring in more snow”.
Weather analyst Richard Green agrees, saying the warm winds over the South Island of late often precede snowy events. Yesterday Mr Green reported that it was 21 degrees in some parts of Canterbury thanks to a gentle nor’wester. The official high in Christchurch was 18.
Warm winds in winter are often a sign of very large air pressure zones – so extra warm on one side can sometimes mean extra cold on the other.
Some models are picking a snowy event early next week – WeatherWatch.co.nz is still watching the models closely for this but still have some doubts until more models have agreement.
Mr Green says while farmers plan for snow every year early snow predictions from forecasters can be very helpful. Last year a spring snow storm in Southland killed half a million lambs and destroyed Stadium Southland.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says one positive about snow at this time of the year is that it tends to pass quickly. “Spring is a fast moving season, things don’t usually hang around too long” says Mr Duncan.
– Homepage image / File, Stuart Malcolm
on 9/08/2011 8:48pm
I reckon the odds of snow to low levels over the next 6 weeks is highly likely. It is every year. There would seldom be a year that early spring (mid Aug to end Sept) doesn’t bring a snow fall to low levels along the east coast up to Marlborough.
I heard that the new Dunedin stadium roof is strong enough to hold a car. I hope it can hold 10cm of wet snow. Dunedin city gets a dump like that to sea-level every 5 years or so and it’s not the soft powdery light stuff!
on 9/08/2011 5:36pm
Yes it be wonderful for it to be settled for a week here to….(after 2 or 3 days of overcast slag)