It's a sizzler: temperatures soar nationwide
By MICHAEL FOX - Stuff.co.nz | Thursday, 08 January 2009Much of New Zealand sweltered in unusually hot weather today, with reports the mercury topped 40 degrees Celsius in Christchurch.
Hotter than normal temperatures were widespread over New Zealand with 12 locations between Timaru and Gisborne recording temperatures of more than 30C, MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said.
Police tonight urged motorists on the Desert Road to exercise caution due the extreme heat causing the tar seal on the road to melt and lift.
A spokeswoman said sand had been put down on the road but this has also made conditions slippery.
The MetService had recorded air temperatures up to 35.7C in Christchurch, which made it the hottest day of the summer so far and neared its January record high of 35.9 degrees in 1979.
However, Christchurch-based weather analyst Richard Green reported temperatures of 40C in the early afternoon with the suburb of Barrington reaching 41C, Cashmere 40C and Christchurch city 38C.
MetService spokesperson Nic Bonnette said a ridge of high pressure over the Mainland, combined with north-westerly winds blowing across the ranges, was creating the high temperatures; a weather pattern known as the "Fohn Effect".
"So, much of the areas down that east coast [of the South Island] will be getting quite warm temperatures," she said.
Around Christchurch, Lyttelton was also 33 degrees, while further north Blenheim was 30. Middlemarch and Cromwell have so far peaked at 29.
However, the run of good weather is set to end as a cold front prepares to cross the South Island tomorrow, she said.
In the North Island, Tauranga and Gisborne topped the recordings with 28 degrees.
Police are asking motorists to exercise caution when travelling through the Desert Road this evening, with extreme heat on the Central Plateau causing the tar seal on the road to melt and lift.
The good weather is set to last until Saturday.
New Zealanders are looking set to enjoy a long hot summer.
Temperatures through to March are likely to be average or above average across the country, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) said today.
It was likely to be drier than average in the south, but rainfall in the north was expected to be normal or above normal.
Niwa predicted more easterlies than normal in the north but lighter winds than normal in the south.
Moderate La Nina conditions were likely to continue into autumn, it said.
There was a slightly higher chance of an ex-tropical cyclone passing within 500km of the country during the cyclone season through to May.