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Week in Weather: What’s been making headlines this week

What a crazy week in the weather world!

We’ve had hailstorms, tornadoes, record high temperatures, grim forecasts for 2016 and an unpicking of the recent ‘planet saving’ (or is it?) climate deal reached in Paris – as well as some good old fashioned cricket weather.
Whew! Good thing the holidays are almost here…

Let’s start in Canterbury, where all the drama unfolded last weekend.
Firstly, it was just a good old December storm, but then it became something else…something more.
Tornadoes were spotted across Canterbury as a cold change mixed with afternoon heating on Sunday afternoon. estimates all of the tornadoes were at the lowest end of the scale – most likely EF0 or potentially EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale…which goes up to 5 – but still scary!

After all that happened here, a violent supercell thunderstorm tore through southeastern suburbs of Sydney on Wednesday morning, producing a tornado, golf-to-tennis-ball size hail and torrential rain.
The thunderstorm was perhaps the worst to hit a populated centre of Sydney since the 9th of December 2007, which caused swathes of damage over the Hills district due to giant hail.

In slightly larger picture news, we saw the conclusion of weeks of negotiating, haggling, begging and protesting on Sunday – as the COP 21 talks finally produced a multi-country agreement on controlling climate change that the French Foreign Minster said was “fair … and legally binding.”
“Today we are close to the final outcome. It is my deep conviction we have come up with an ambitious and balanced agreement,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday.

Meanwhile, politicians around the world were heralding the agreement, and, as politicians are wont to do, making hay while the sun shines.
President Barack Obama praised the landmark climate change agreement, saying it could be “a turning point for the world.”

Meanwhile, back in their own country, unseasonably mild temperatures are spreading over the eastern half of the country and about 75% of the U.S. population saw the temperature climb over 60°F (15C) last weekend, hardly a winter wonderland.
And the outlook for Christmas isn’t so white, either – with several main centres recording historic high temperatures for the beginning of December!

Staying abroad, we’ve seen global temperatures smash all kinds of records this year, and now meteorologists are warning 2016 will be even hotter.
The annual global temperature forecast from the British Met Office suggests 2016 will be between 0.72C and 0.95C above the long-term average of 14°C.
Man-made global warming, along with a smaller effect from the natural El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific, are expected to push temperatures towards record levels next year.

The annual global temperature forecast suggests 2016 will be between 0.72C and 0.95C. Photo / NASA


El Niño’s effects have certainly been felt in New Zealand this year, with drier than average soil conditions clearly showing up in the latest nationwide soil moisture maps, provided by Niwa – and farmers in the east are asking when the rain is coming.
El Nino tends to make our wettest regions wetter and our driest regions drier – frequent west to south west events see dry hot conditions in the east and the general flow doesn’t tend to support decent rain makers that soak or saturate these dry eastern and inland areas.

While some western parts of the country – particularly Canterbury and Gisborne – have been sweltering in high temperatures to kick off our warmest season, many others can´t say the same.
Check out some of the reactions from our readers on social media to the recent spate of rough, cold or just cloudy weather around New Zealand – as many ask “where’s summer?

And finally, check out our chat with NZ Prime Minister John Key – who talks golf in the rain, rough Wellington landings, and New Zealand weather data with Philip Duncan – here.

Don’t forget to check out our latest Christmas Day forecast, here – as well as our Live Santa Tracker, right here – live until 11pm on Christmas Eve!


 – Photo: Maree Reveley


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