It may have been the week after the big storm across the ditch, and the last week of summer, but there were still plenty of surprises in the past 7 days – not all of them weather related…
We started the week with the news that many kiwis had been dreading – the discovery of several Queensland fruit flies in Auckland – though the Ministry for Primary Industries was quick to dampen fears and caution against fearing the worst.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said there’s no point in prophesying doom while there’s still plenty of work to be done.
He said it could take a couple of months, and New Zealand’s trading partners “have been alerted”.
“We haven’t experienced any negative reaction from them, which is positive.”
While the ministry says it does expect more fruit flies to be found, officials are pointing to an incursion by the Mediterranean fruit fly in 1996 – when 41 adult flies were found – as an example of why the findings don’t mean the fly has established a foothold in New Zealand.
While many New Zealanders have been following this story with interest, it seems as though many of our young people may not understand the implications of a potential biosecurity risk.
Manukau Institute of Technology’s Rajesh Ram recently surveyed Year 9 students in Auckland.
He says most didn’t know some plants and animals pose a threat to our crops and environment, and the same went for their knowledge of microorganisms.
Across the ditch, and the cleanup from last week’s Tropical Cyclone Marcia has begun – as well as the damage assessment.
More than 3,300 homes have been assessed in Queensland in the wake of the cyclone, of which 1,000 had structural damage and 350 cannot be returned to, which was 250 more than estimated at first.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was still unclear how much public infrastructure had been destroyed and what impact it would have on the budget.
Hundreds of soldiers started helping with the clean up on Monday and by Monday morning 5,000 claims had been lodged – with preliminary insurance losses standing at $33 million.
In other extreme weather news, much of the USA shivered in the wake of a ferocious cold snap this week, battered by a polar vortex and the sinisterly named Siberian Express blast from the Arctic, which combined to bring record lows.
The extreme cold, which has claimed several lives and frozen over Niagara Falls, continued through the week, though it was at its worst on Sunday.
Bruce Sullivan, a senior meteorologist with the NWS, confirmed that the US had been hit in the space of one week by both the polar vortex – a pocket of very cold air that usually swirls around the North Pole and which made headlines when it hit last year – and the Siberian Express.
In news of a slightly wider perspective, we learned this week that 2014 was the Earth’s warmest year on record, with average temperatures 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit above the previous high.
The National Climatic Data Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, noted the average temperatures over land and oceans were higher in 2014 than any year since 1880 when record-keeping began.
Last December also had the third-highest average global land temperature — out of any December in the past 135 years — at 2.45 degrees F above average, according to the agency.
Check out more details from that report, here.
And after an extremely dry, calm start to our 2015 here in New Zealand, March MAY just throw a few surprises our way – though we might not know for sure just how big those surprises will be until closer to the time – check out our latest weather video with Philip Duncan, as he previews a new month and a new season, here.
And finally, don’t forget to vote in our latest poll for your favourite season! Autumn is ahead by a whisker at present…
– Drew Chappell, WeatherWatch.co.nz
– Photo: CNN