The first full week of 2015 has been a busy one – both at home and abroad, as the new year kicked off in style, weather wise.
Looking back on 2014’s weather, according to newly released nationwide climate data – both rainfall and temperatures were close to average for much of the country.
The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric research has released statistics from the last 12 months, detailing rainfall, sunshine, temperature and soil moisture readings – and the findings may surprise you!
Underneath the ground is where most of the real action was taking place this week – with a spate of earthquakes striking the central South Island on Tuesday.
Four quakes measuring between 6.4 and 4.1 in magnitude hit the Methven and Arthur’s Pass area between 6.48am and 6.59am.
The first tremor, measuring 6.4, struck 35km north of Methven at 6.48am, GNS Science reported.
Further south, farmers in Southland are being warned about water permits on old mining deeds, as the country dries out and river levels drop.
A number of rivers in the region have fallen near or below their minimum flows, due to the dry weather.
Deemed permits have historically not been subject to flow restrictions, but now that’s no longer the case.
In more foodie news, potato chip lovers may be disappointed this year, after a potato shortage may threaten to leave shelves bare.
Bad spring weather meant new season potato crops were down by 20 per cent compared to last year.
One of New Zealand’s largest chip producers – Eta Snack Foods – was unable to comment, but the company had posted a warning about the potato shortage on its Facebook page last month.
Across the Tasman, the Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that 2014 was Australia’s third-warmest year since national records began in 1910.
Australian maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average for most of 2014, while February was the only month that recorded below average temperatures.
That continued a pattern of warm weather seen throughout 2013, which was Australia’s warmest year on record.
Later in the week we journeyed a little farther afield, to Nepal, the country best known for its fabled Himalayas including Mount Everest – and its deadly, tragic year.
In April, a hanging glacial mass collapsed and tumbled through a dangerous route on Everest, killing 16 Sherpas in the worst single disaster.
Months later, an unseasonal snowstorm struck Annapurna, killing at least 43 people including locals and foreign tourists.
CNN this week asked the question: were the disasters just prone to happen or was climate change a factor?
We also ran a story answering the oft-posed question: “what is the difference between a tropical storm and a cyclone?” – you can check that out, here.
As a nation, we are passionately interested in the weather – seeing as how crucial it is to our economy and our lifestyles (especially this time of year!).
We wanted to know how many WeatherWatchers had their own weather monitoring station – something we ask every so often as the technology becomes cheaper and easier to operate.
Well, we had an unprecedented level of response this year, going to show that we are more connected to our environment than ever! Check out the responses, and links to a lot of stations around the country, here.
And finally, don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages – and let’s make 2015 an even better year for watching the skies and staying connected!
– Drew Chappell, WeatherWatch.co.nz
– Photo: GNS Science