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The climate of Christmases past



The climate of Christmases past

If history is anything to go by, Wellington and Christchurch are the main centres most likely to experience a dry Christmas Day, while Auckland and Hamilton are the least likely.

That’s according to a new climate study undertaken by NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll.

Mr Noll analysed data from the last 30 Christmas Days, and discovered that the capital city and Christchurch have both experienced just four Christmas Days over that period – an average of one every 7.5 years.

What’s more, Wellington hasn’t suffered a wet Christmas since 2002 – or 15 years – the longest streak of any main centre.

Meanwhile rain has dampened Christmas Day in Auckland and Hamilton on 11 occasions, in Tauranga eight, and in Dunedin six, during the last 30 years.

“That might come as a surprise to some people,” Mr Noll said. “There’s a perception that Christmas in New Zealand is more often soggy than dry.

“We call Christmas ‘wet’ if 1mm or more of rain falls in the 24 hours beginning at 9am on the 25thand ending at 9am on the 26th."

Looking further back in time, Christchurch holds the dubious distinction of experiencing the wettest Christmas Day on record of any main centre. Back in 1909, a whopping 59.7mm fell.

The wettest Christmas Day on record in the main centres
(9am 25th December to 9am 26th December)
Auckland 24.4 mm (1987)
Tauranga 47.0 mm (1926)
Hamilton 37.8 mm (1968)
Wellington 48.6 mm (1973)
Christchurch 59.7 mm (1909)
Dunedin 33.3 mm (1969)

“Of course, history is useful for showing us patterns but it doesn’t tell us exactly what Christmas Day 2017 will be like in the main centres,” Mr Noll said.

“The NIWA Weather team is keeping a close eye on atmospheric developments, and we’ll be letting everyone know how things are shaping up for the big day just as soon as we can.”

© Scoop Media

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