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National Climate Summary – March 2006

3 April 2006

National Climate Summary - March 2006

- Rainfall: Ex-tropical cyclone and high rainfall in Northland; low rainfall in Nelson and inland south Canterbury

- Soil moisture: Deficits persist in Wanganui, Manawatu, and the north and east of the South Island

- Temperature: Cold, especially in the South Island; lowest nationally since 1993

- Sunshine: sunny in the far north, and in Westland

March was cold with mean temperatures being the lowest since 1993.

The national average temperature of 14.2 ¢XC (almost 3.0 ¢XC lower than in February) was 1.5 ¢XC below the 1971-2000 normal. These were well below average in many regions, particularly in the South Island, and as low as normal April values in parts of inland south Canterbury. Contrasts in rainfall occurred, with above average totals in many northern and eastern parts of the North Island, as well as coastal Southland.

Rainfall was below normal in Nelson, inland south Canterbury, and many western regions. Significant soil moisture deficits persisted during the first three weeks the month in Northland, Auckland, and Gisborne, and continued for the rest of the month in Wanganui, Manawatu, Nelson, and the east of the South Island from Canterbury to Central Otago.

Northland's high rainfall was due to two periods of wet weather over the 7th and 26-27th of March, the later event being associated with the passage of ex-tropical cyclone "Wati'. March was sunnier than normal in northern areas of Northland, and in Westland.

However, sunshine was below normal in Waikato, Gisborne, Wairarapa, north Canterbury, and West Otago. During March, depressions (or "lows') were more frequent to the east of the North Island, with frequent cool southerlies over New Zealand.

Other Highlights:

- The highest temperature recorded during March 2006 was 30.2 ¢XC recorded at Ashburton Airport on the 14th. The maximum temperature of 29.2 ¢XC recorded at Henderson, Auckland on the 20th was equal highest there for March in records that commenced in 1986. The lowest temperature for the month was -4.1¢XC in Middlemarch, Otago on the 26th.

- High rainfall, totalling 50-90 mm was recorded in Northland in the 24 hours to 9am on the 8th. Rainfall totalling at least 90 mm was recorded in Gisborne in the 48 hours to 9am on the 24th. Another high rainfall event, associated with ex-tropical cyclone "Wati', affected Northland in the 48 hours to 9am on the 27th, with 2-day totals of 147 mm at Kaikohe and 143 mm at Kerikeri.

- The highest wind gust for the month was 150 km/h from the northwest at Castlepoint on the 1st. Storm force southerlies occurred in Cook Strait on the 3rd. A tornado occurred at a Hinemoana Downs farm near Waimate at about 2pm on the 8th, destroying a large 23 room historic homestead. Two sheds were also damaged. North easterly gales affected exposed parts of Northland on the 26th, with a gust of 141 km/h at Cape Reinga.

- Hail occurred during thunderstorms in Wellington on the 9th, resulting in the closure of the airport for a short period of time.

- Temperatures were below average in all five main centres. Christchurch was the driest, and Wellington the wettest. Rainfall was below average in Auckland, near average in Christchurch and Dunedin, and above average in Hamilton and Wellington. Sunshine hours were near average in Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, but below average in Hamilton and Christchurch.

Rainfall: Rainfall was about 200 percent (twice) of normal in parts of Northland. Rainfall was also above normal in parts of Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Wairarapa, Wellington, and coastal Southland. Rainfall totals were 25 percent (a quarter) or less of normal in parts of Nelson and inland south Canterbury, and 50 percent (half) or less of normal in north Taranaki. Rainfall was also below normal in Thames/Hauraki, Wanganui, Buller, Westland, and much of north Canterbury and Otago.

Temperature: Mean temperatures were about 1.0 ¢XC below average throughout much of the North Island. Temperatures were at least 1.5 ¢XC below average in King Country, Horowhenua, Wellington, and throughout much of the South Island. They were more than 2.0 ¢XC below average in parts of Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.
Sunshine: Sunshine hours were at least 110 percent of normal in northern areas of Northland, and in Westland. They were below normal in Waikato, Gisborne, Wairarapa, north Canterbury, and West Otago.

BELOW AVERAGE TEMPERATURES, ESPECIALLY IN THE SOUTH ISLAND

Mean temperatures were about 1.0 ¢XC below average throughout much of the North Island. Temperatures were at least 1.5 ¢XC below average in King Country, Horowhenua, Wellington, and throughout much of the South Island. They were more than 2.0 ¢XC below average in parts of Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.


Near record low March mean air temperatures were recorded at:

Location Mean temperature Departure from average (¢XC) Records
Began Comments
Taumarunui 14.1 -2.3 1948 2nd lowest
Castlepoint 15.0 -2.1 1972 Equal 2nd lowest
Wellington, Kelburn 13.9 -1.9 1928 Equal 3rd lowest
Wallaceville 13.5 -2.0 1948 Equal 3rd lowest
Hokitika Airport 13.3 -1.4 1964 3rd lowest
Franz Josef 12.4 -1.4 1983 Equal 3rd lowest
Puysegur Point 11.7 -1.4 1980 3rd lowest
Hanmer Forest 11.7 -2.2 1906 2nd lowest
Kaikoura 13.3 -2.1 1964 2nd lowest
Mt Cook Village 9.2 -3.3 1930 Lowest
Rangiora 12.7 -2.0 1965 Lowest
Christchurch Airport 12.6 -2.5 1954 Lowest
Lincoln, Broadfield 12.6 -2.5 1881 2nd lowest
Lake Tekapo 9.0 -3.7 1927 Lowest
Timaru Airport 12.0 -2.0 1962 3rd lowest
Tara Hills 11.3 -2.4 1950 3rd lowest
Wanaka Airport 12.1 -2.5 1993 Equal lowest
Dunedin Airport 11.4 -1.9 1963 Lowest
Dunedin, Musselburgh 11.8 -2.0 1947 Lowest
Manapouri Airport 10.0 -2.2 1991 Lowest
Clyde 11.9 -2.0 1983 Lowest
Ettrick 11.3 -2.4 1985 Lowest
Gore 10.4 -2.5 1988 Lowest
Invercargill Airport 11.0 -1.5 1949 Equal 2nd lowest
Tiwai Point 11.3 -2.0 1971 Lowest


HIGH RAINFALL IN NORTHLAND; LOW RAINFALL IN NELSON AND INLAND SOUTH CANTERBURY

Rainfall was about 200 percent of normal in parts of Northland, and at least 125 percent of normal in parts of Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Wairarapa, Wellington, and coastal Southland. In contrast, March rainfall totals were 25 percent or less of normal in parts of Nelson and inland south Canterbury, 50 percent or less of normal in north Taranaki, and 75 percent (three quarters) or less of normal in Thames/Hauraki, Wanganui, Buller, Westland, and parts of north Canterbury and Otago. Rainfall was near normal elsewhere.

High March rainfall was recorded at:

Location March
Rainfall (mm) Percentage
of normal Year
records began Comments
Cape Reinga 173 229 1920 3rd highest
Kaitaia Observatory 172 208 1986 3rd highest
Kaikohe 233 177 1973 3rd highest
Mahia 200 271 1992 Highest

Low March rainfall was recorded at:

Location March
Rainfall (mm) Percentage
of normal Year
records began Comments
Awatere Valley Dashwood 12 17 2001 Well below normal
Lake Tekapo 5 10 1927 Well below normal
Ranfurly 3 8 1975 Lowest


SUNNY IN THE FAR NORTH AND NELSON

Sunshine hours and solar radiation were about 110 percent of normal in northern areas of Northland, and in Westland, and less than 90 percent of normal in Waikato, Gisborne, Wairarapa, north Canterbury, and central Otago. They were near normal elsewhere.


MARCH'S CLIMATE IN THE FIVE MAIN CENTRES

Of the five main centres, temperatures were below average with Christchurch and Dunedin recording their coldest March on record. Christchurch was the driest, and Wellington the wettest. Rainfall was below average in Auckland, near average in Christchurch and Dunedin, and above average in Hamilton and Wellington. Sunshine hours were near average in Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, but below average in Hamilton and Christchurch.

Location Mar.
Mean
Temp.
(¢XC) Dep.
from normal
(¢XC) Mar.
rainfall
(mm) % of
normal Mar.
Sunshine
(hours) % of
Normal
Auckland 18.2 -0.4 Below average 55a 58 Below average 192 104 Near average
Hamilton 16.2 -0.9 Below average 107 122 Above average 162 87 Below average
Wellington 13.9 -1.9 Well below average 120 130 Above average 174 91 Near average
Christchurch 12.6b -2.5 Lowest 50b 90 Below average 138b 76 Below average
Dunedin 11.8
-1.9 Lowest 67 96 Near average 127 91 Near average
a Owairaka b Christchurch Airport

HIGHLIGHTS AND EXTREME EVENTS

- Temperature
The highest temperature recorded during March 2006 was 30.2 ¢XC recorded at Ashburton Airport on the 14th. The maximum temperature of 29.2 ¢XC recorded at Henderson, Auckland on the 20th was equal highest there for March in records that commenced in 1986. The lowest temperature for the month was -4.1 ¢XC in Middlemarch, Otago on the 26th.

- High rainfall
High rainfall, totalling 50-90 mm was recorded in Northland in the 24 hours to 9am on the 8th. Further high rainfall, totalling at least 90 mm was recorded in Gisborne in the 48 hours to 9am on the 24th. Another high rainfall event, associated with ex-tropical cyclone "Wati', affected Northland in the 48 hours to 9am on the 27th, with 2-day totals of 147 mm in Kaikohe and 143 mm in Kerikeri, and close to 100 mm in many other parts of the region.

- High winds
The highest wind gust for the month was 150 km/h from the northwest, occurring at Castlepoint on the 1st. Southerly gales buffeted Wellington (storm force through Cook Strait) on the 3rd, with gusts to 143 km/h recorded at Mt Kau Kau. The 2 pm ferry sailing from Wellington to Picton encountered high seas with 10 m swells on its voyage, taking eight hours instead of the normal three. Several people were injured during the rough passage, and a number of railway wagons and motor vehicles came free from their lashings. North easterly gales affected exposed parts of Northland on the 26th, with a gust of 141 km/h recorded at Cape Reinga.

- Damaging Tornado
A tornado occurred at a Hinemoana Downs farm near Waimate at about 2pm on the 8th, destroying a large 23 room historic homestead. Two sheds were also damaged.


- Hail
Hail occurred during thunderstorms over Wellingtons southern suburbs of Miramar and Island Bay during the morning on the 9th, resulting in the closure of the airport for a short period of time.

ENDS


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