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National Climate Summary - January 2008

National Climate Summary - January 2008: heat waves & drought

- Temperature: Above average especially Waikato, King Country, Nelson and inland South Island

- Soil moisture: Severe deficits in many North Island areas and the east of the South Island

- Rainfall: Extremely low in northern areas from Auckland south, Wairarapa, and the coastal northeast of the South Island

- Sunshine: Extremely high in the south; well below average in Northland

January was a month of records.

Heat wave conditions occurred across inland areas of the South Island, and even extended to coastal parts of Canterbury and central Marlborough, for the first three weeks of January, with temperatures of 30°C or more recorded regularly. Record daytime maximums for January occurred in inland Otago and inland Southland. January 2008 temperatures were well above average everywhere, with the national average temperature of 18.3°C being 1.3°C above average.

Extremely low rainfall occurred in many areas, with totals of less than 10 mm in the Hauraki Plains, Waikato, King Country, coastal Marlborough and parts of north Canterbury. In Waikato it was the driest January in over 100 years of records. Rainfall was a 25% or less (a quarter) of normal in south Auckland, Waikato, southern Coromandel, King Country, the central North Island, coastal Wairarapa, coastal Marlborough and north Canterbury. As a result severe soil moisture deficits (more than 130 mm) had developed from Auckland to the King Country, South Taranaki, northern Manawatu, Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa, Wellington, and persisted in the South Island from Marlborough to central Canterbury. There is no single definition of a "drought" but, in general terms, areas with more than 130 mm soil moisture deficit may be said to be experiencing agricultural drought conditions, particularly if these areas are not accustomed to very dry conditions at the time of year.

The only place where rainfall was above average in January was in parts of Horowhenua.

Otago and Southland as well as inland areas of Canterbury basked in their sunniest January on record, whilst well below average sunshine hours were recorded in Northland.

The month's overall climate pattern was produced by many more anticyclones east of the South Island producing light winds over the southern North Island, and South Island, and easterlies over the rest of the North Island.


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