After last week’s weather fireworks, it’s been a bit calmer the last 7 days in the Northern Hemisphere – and focus has turned to the south – in particular Tonga and Australia.
Cyclone Ian was listed as a category 4 system late on Friday and quickly turned into a category 5 cyclone – the most severe – on Saturday. It racked up winds with an average of 200km/h and heavy rains, but left the nation’s main island, Tongatapu, mostly unscathed.
Tonga’s northern islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai saw most of the cyclone’s fury, with the latter taking a particularly big hit.
The New Zealand Government made $50,000 available for aid and an RNZAF Orion was sent to Tonga early in the week.
In the wake of the storm, the tropics north of New Zealand are now showing strong signs of warming up, with long range models predicting more thunderstorms and lows north of New Zealand in the coming two weeks.
Directly north of New Zealand, the tropics aren’t too firey just yet, but some long range maps show more rain makers and potential storms around the Coral Sea in the final 10 days of January.
Philip Duncan is picking New Zealand may continue to be somewhat protected by Tasman Sea highs, but these highs don’t fully protect northern and eastern areas.
Check out his article on why New Zealand isn’t at high risk of a tropical storm here.
Continuing the climate theme, NIWA released its annual climate summary for 2013 this week, showing New Zealand sweated under its third-warmest temperatures on record last year.
Niwa’s principal meteorology scientist Dr Mike Revell said the national average temperature last year was 13.4C, 0.8C above average and the third warmest on record since 1909.
Check out the story, and NIWA’s full 2013 Climate Summary, here.
From Auckland to Dunedin to Southland people have been writing in to WeatherWatch.co.nz asking “What has happened to summer??” following two fairly average to below average weeks of weather.
For western and southern parts of both islands the weather has been changeable recently.
Wellington has had one day of gales, or near gales, just about every week since the start of spring.
Check out Philip Duncan’s open letter explaining why we’ve had a mixed bag in 2014 so far, and the latest weather maps in this video.
Two days of heavy rains set off floods and landslides in the southeastern Philippines on Tuesday, leaving dozens dead and thousands displaced.
The flooding, triggered by rains from a low pressure area, has affected 132,000 people from 10 provinces.
The same area was hit by a typhoon in December 2012, leaving more than 2,000 people dead and missing and causing huge damage.
This video from CNN shows the scale of the tragedy there.
Finally, of course we finished the week with all eyes on Australia.
Across the ditch, they’ve been sizzling in near-record temperatures across the Southeast, with emergencies declared as fires raged near Hopetoun, 400km northwest of Melbourne, and Yaapeet in Victoria’s western Wimmera region.
Authorities were preparing for more fires from lightning strikes through South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, and were struggling to contain out-of-control fires ahead of a blistering hot weekend.
Adelaide on Thursday was the hottest city on the planet, with temperatures hovering in the mid-to-high 40s there, and across much of inland South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, stretching emergency services to their limits.
Worse may be in store.
While the weekend is expected to bring relief with a cool southerly change, fire and health authorities fear today could be their most critical period as strong, gusty winds drive through the furnace ahead of the new front.
Fire authorities have also warned that the heatwave has stripped all moisture from bush and grassland, creating a volatile, dangerous tinder for the remaining six weeks of a blazing summer.
And this may be just the harbinger of deadlier summers ahead.
On that note, we finish another week, with a sobering warning from our head weather analyst Philip Duncan – don’t blame the weather forecasters for a lousy Summer – blame Australia.
Another week in news, what did you make of it? Let us know in the comments, or check us out on Facebook.
– Drew Chappell for Weatherwatch and Country TV