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Your FAQs: Why is spring so changeable & when will the winds ease?

Some questions and comments has had lately: “When will these strong winds end?” “So much for spring, it’s snowing at my place”, “Why is it so hot today?” “When can we have a couple weeks of sunny, calm, weather?”.

OK – so let’s address these one by one…

When will the strong winds end?
The spring equinox was on Tuesday which is usually the green light for windy weather to move in for New Zealand. We usually have far more westerlies (the roaring 40s) surging up over the country. Because of our mountains and ranges these winds can surge up into gale and hurricane force quite easily, especially in the east and south of both islands.   The spring gales usually die back in the first half of November.

So much for spring, it’s been snowing at my place!
Spring is all about winter fading out and summer gradually sliding in. Snow storms in New Zealand can easily occur in spring, even as late as November.  However they tend to be very short lived – and are often followed by warm weather a day or two later.  Snow and frost events become far less likely from mid October onwards.

Why is it so hot today?
Westerlies are generally mild for New Zealand – but they warm up even further when they go over our ranges and race down the other side.  This action dries the air out and warms it up even further.  This is why the same wind can bring a high of 15 degrees to Greymouth but 23 degrees in Christchurch, for example.  The flip side is that when a southerly comes in the daytime highs can go from 23 one day to only 10degs the following day. 

When can we have settled weather for a couple weeks?
The weather is chaotic in spring – we get highs, lows and a lot of windy days.  It’s hard to lock in anything for more than 48 hours (other than windy weather!) due to the fast moving nature of the lows and highs during September and October.  Long dry spells are certainly possible for some regions – but within those very regions there may be rain events.  We see plenty of highs, lows and windy weather in the weeks ahead – and most places will have a variety of conditions…text book spring!

– Image / File, Joanne Ottey



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