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NZ should brace for heavy cold snaps this winter

Media release – May 12, 2006

NZ should brace for heavy cold snaps this winter, dry to the east for Queens Birthday Weekend - forecaster

New Zealand can expect some heavy cold snaps this winter, long range weather forecaster said today.

The country will now feel a cold bite every winter month until early September, Ken Ring of said.

The upcoming Queen’s Birthday weekend should see rain in parts of the North Island, fine intervals to the east but temperatures plummeting throughout the three days.

Ring said in the first week of June, a winter blast should hammer the South Island and snow and sleet may reach low levels, affecting parts of Canterbury, central and south Otago, Queenstown and Southland. Fine and frosty weather will follow.

``Temperatures have plunged lately because the moon is now rising in the south, and will reach its southernmost point for the month just after this weekend.

``In winter, full moons coincide with the southerly moon, conditions which always bring a temperature drop. 2006 is the year the moon reaches its most southerly latitude for nearly 19 years.

``So we can expect unusually cold snaps every winter month, the last one coming in the first week of September. The South Island will see slightly colder temperatures than last winter but it will also be dry, so southern skifields could be reliant on snow machines.

``North Island skifields may get lots of snow but also pesky blizzards, which could close vehicle access to the mountains. The exodus of skiers last year was from south to north but this year it may be reversed.’’

Auckland's coldest winter temperatures should be in the middle and last week of June and throughout the second half of July. Wellington's coldest periods may be at end of May, first and last week of June, last half of July, August 22 and first half of September.

This year will overall be a slightly wetter and warmer, but New Zealand is creeping away from the mild summers and warmer winters of the past few years, he said.

``By 2009/10 we will be enjoying more marked differences in the seasons - colder winters and longer hotter summers. The reason is the moon's declination, which by 2010 will be similar to where it was in 1992, in which year big snows paralysed Christchurch, about a million stock died, buildings were damaged and the economic impact on Canterbury was estimated at up to $100 million.

``Next month should be drier than May, and August will be a much wetter month for all except some east coast areas of both islands. In the first week in August heavy flooding rain may drown parts of the North Island.

Coromandel will have a record wet year. Southern hydrolake levels will be critically low in 2006 but normal levels will return in 2007

The southern drought should continue to dry out South Canterbury and North Otago, and not finally abate until around May 2007.


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