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WEATHER

National Climate Summary October 2009: Coldest October in over half a century
Tuesday 3 November 2009, 10:32AM
By NIWA
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  • Temperature:  The coldest October in 64 years, with all-time record low October temperatures in many areas. Exceptionally late snowfalls. Record low October temperatures were recorded on the 4th/5th in most North Island locations, and on the 9th at many South Island sites.
  • Rainfall: Well above normal rainfall in the east of the North Island, as well as in Wellington, Marlborough and parts of Canterbury.  Very dry on the West Coast of the South Island.
  • Sunshine: Extremely sunny on the West Coast of the South Island. 

 

Record or near-record low October temperatures were experienced in many locations, with temperatures more than 2.0°C below average throughout eastern and alpine areas of the South Island, as well as in the lower half of the North Island. Temperatures were below average (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below average) elsewhere.  Overall for New Zealand, it was the coldest October in 64 years (since 1945), with a national average temperature of 10.6°C (1.4°C below the long-term October average). Such a cold October has occurred only four times in the past 100 years. Record low October temperatures were recorded on the 4th/5th in most North Island locations, and on the 9th at many South Island sites. 

Well above normal October rainfall (above 150 percent of normal) was experienced across the East Coast of the North Island, as well as Wellington, Marlborough and Canterbury (north of about Ashburton).  Rainfall was near-record (and more than 200 percent of normal) in parts of Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and the Tararua District.  Rainfall was also above normal (between 120 and 150 percent of normal) in Manawatu-Wanganui, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.  Rainfall totals were near normal (between 80 and 120 percent of normal) in the Tasman District, central Otago, Auckland, Taranaki and western parts of Northland. In contrast, it was very dry on the West Coast and in Fiordland, with only about half of normal October rainfall recorded there.   

October sunshine totals were well above normal (more than 125 percent of normal) on the West Coast and in Fiordland; in contrast, sunshine totals were below normal (between 75 and 90 percent of normal) for Taranaki, Wellington and the Wairarapa. Elsewhere, sunshine totals were in the near normal range.   

Unseasonable snowfalls characterised October 2009. An exceptionally heavy snow event on the 4th/5th in the Hawkes Bay and Central North Island was estimated to be the worst in October since 1967, stranding hundreds of travellers, closing roads, and resulting in heavy lambing losses. Many locations in the North Island experienced record low October temperatures on the 5th.  Snowfall was also observed in Taranaki, Waikato and Rotorua on the 6th, for the first time in about 30 years around Rotorua. Snowfall also affected Otago and Canterbury on the 8th/9th, with many sites observing record low October temperatures on the 9th.       

During October 2009, lower than normal pressures and frequent southeasterly winds affected New Zealand, leading to the low temperatures around the country. Southeasterlies also led to the sunny and dry conditions experienced on the west coast of the South Island, as the Southern Alps provided shelter from the wind.  

Further Highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 24.3°C recorded at Whangarei on the 17th (4th highest in October). The lowest temperature of -5.5 °C was recorded at Ranfurly on the 5th (not a record).
  • The highest 1-day rainfall was 89 mm, recorded at Motu, Gisborne, on the 4th (not a record).
  • The highest wind gust was 148 km/hr, recorded at Stewart Island on the 21st (not a record).
  • Of the six main centres, Tauranga was the warmest, Wellington the wettest, Dunedin the coolest and driest, and Christchurch the sunniest. 

 

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths – Climate Scientist– NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland,

Tel. (09) 375 4506 (work) or (027) 2936545 (mobile); or

Dr Andrew Tait – Climate Scientist – NIWA National Climate Centre, Wellington,

Tel.  (04) 386 0562 (work) or (027) 327 7948 (mobile)  

TEMPERATURES: COLDEST OCTOBER IN 64 YEARS; RECORD OR NEAR RECORD COLD IN MANY LOCATIONS  

Record or near-record low October temperatures were experienced in many locations, with temperatures more than 2.0°C below average throughout eastern and alpine areas of the South Island, as well as the lower half of the North Island. Temperatures were generally below average (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below average) elsewhere.  It was the coldest October in 64 years (since 1945), with a national average temperature of 10.6°C (1.4°C below the long-term October average). Such a cold October has occurred only four times in the past 100 years.    Record low October temperatures were recorded on the 4th/5th in most North Island locations, and on the 9th at many South Island sites.  

Extreme low October mean maximum daily air temperatures were recorded at: 

Location Mean maximum air temperature  (°C) Departure from normal

(°C)

Year

records began

Comments
Kaitaia 15.4 -2.6 1967 Lowest
Dargaville 15.8 -2.4 1943 Lowest
Warkworth 16.5 -1.1 1966 4th-lowest
Paeroa 17.4 -1.5 1947 4th-lowest
Whakatane 17.2 -1.4 1974 3rd-lowest
Rotorua 15.1 -1.5 1964 3rd-lowest
Taupo 14.2 -2.3 1949 2nd-lowest
Port Taharoa 16.1 -1.2 1973 3rd-lowest
Te Kuiti 16.1 -1.8 1959 3rd-lowest
Taumarunui 15.5 -2.5 1947 Lowest
Turangi 14.7 -1.6 1968 3rd-lowest
Takapau Plains 13.6 -2.5 1962 2nd-lowest
Dannevirke 12.7 -3.8 1951 Lowest
Castlepoint 13.6 -2.9 1972 Lowest
East Taratahi 15.2 -2.2 1906 4th-lowest
Martinborough 15.2 -2.8 1986 Lowest
Ngawi 14.7 -2.0 1972 Lowest
Napier 16.2 -2.5 1870 2nd-lowest
Hastings 17.0 -2.0 1965 2nd-lowest
Waipawa 15.4 -2.1 1945 2nd-lowest
Wairoa, North Clyde 16.6 -2.4 1964 Lowest
Paraparaumu 14.4 -1.4 1953 Lowest
Palmerston North 14.8 -1.9 1928 3rd-lowest
Levin 14.8 -1.6 1895 3rd-lowest
Wellington 14.0 -1.9 1962 Lowest
Wallaceville 14.1 -1.9 1939 Lowest
Stratford 13.1 -2.0 1960 Lowest
Hawera 14.0 -1.7 1977 Lowest
Ohakune 11.8 -2.5 1962 2nd-lowest
Waiouru 10.0 -3.3 1962 Lowest
Wanganui 15.1 -1.9 1937 2nd-lowest
Motueka, Riwaka 16.3 -1.4 1956 2nd-lowest
Cape Campbell 13.0 -3.8 1953 Lowest
Kaikoura 12.4 -3.1 1963 Lowest
Arthurs Pass 10.3 -2.6 1973 3rd-lowest
Waipara West 14.6 -3.1 1973 Lowest
Darfield 14.8 -2.5 1939 4th-lowest
Christchurch 14.3 -2.7 1863 2nd-lowest
Lincoln 14.3 -2.5 1881 3rd-lowest
Le Bons Bay 11.7 -2.4 1984 Lowest
Timaru 13.5 -2.6 1885 2nd-lowest
Oamaru 13.4 -2.6 1908 2nd-lowest
Dunedin (Airport) 14.0 -2.0 1947 4th-lowest
Dunedin, Musselburgh 12.8 -2.0 1947 Lowest
Manapouri 13.2 -1.6 1963 4th-lowest
Lumsden 13.3 -1.9 1982 2nd-lowest
Invercargill 12.9 -1.5 1948 3rd-lowest
Tiwai Point 12.3 -1.6 1970 2nd-lowest
Balclutha 13.0 -2.5 1964 Lowest
Nugget Point 12.1 -1.2 1970 3rd-lowest

 

Notably, the mean minimum temperature recorded at Queenstown (2.8°C) was the lowest ever for October, since records began in 1871. 

 

Extreme low October mean minimum daily air temperatures were recorded at: 

Location Mean minimum air temperature  (°C) Departure from normal

(°C)

Year

records began

Comments
Kaitaia 8.7 -1.9 1967 2nd-lowest
Warkworth 8.5 -2.1 1966 Lowest
Whangaparaoa 10.1 -1.3 1982 4th-lowest
Port Taharoa 9.4 -1.6 1973 2nd-lowest
Dannevirke 5.3 -2.5 1951 2nd-lowest
Castlepoint 8.0 -2.2 1972 2nd-lowest
Ngawi 8.5 -1.6 1972 2nd-lowest
Wellington 8.5 -1.4 1962 3rd-lowest
Wanganui 8.4 -1.2 1987 3rd-lowest
Westport 6.3 -2.1 1937 3rd-lowest
Lake Rotoiti 1.6 -2.0 1965 3rd-lowest
Hokitika 5.4 -2.0 1963 2nd-lowest
Reefton 3.6 -2.6 1960 Lowest
Greymouth 6.6 -1.7 1947 3rd-lowest
Haast 5.1 -1.4 1949 4th-lowest
Puysegur Point 6.7 -1.0 1978 3rd-lowest
Blenheim 4.7 -2.1 1932 2nd-lowest
Hanmer Forest 1.3 -2.8 1906 3rd-lowest
Kaikoura 6.3 -1.9 1963 Lowest
Arthurs Pass 0.8 -3.4 1973 Lowest
Waipara West 4.4 -2.1 1973 Lowest
Le Bons Bay 5.0 -2.0 1984 2nd-lowest
Lake Tekapo 1.1 -2.4 1927 3rd-lowest
Tara Hills 1.5 -2.2 1949 3rd-lowest
Wanaka 3.5 -1.8 1955 4th-lowest
Dunedin 4.1 -0.8 1947 Lowest
Queenstown 2.8 -1.6 1871 Lowest
Nugget Point 5.5 -0.9 1970 4th-lowest

 
 

Rainfall: VERY WET IN THE EASTERN NORTH ISLAND, WELLINGTON, MARLBOROUGH, AND PARTS OF CANTERBURY.  VERY DRY on the west coast.  

Well above normal October rainfall (above 150 percent of normal) was experienced across the East Coast of the North Island, as well as Wellington, Marlborough and Canterbury (north of about Ashburton).  Rainfall was, in fact, more than 200 percent of normal in parts of Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and the Tararua District, with Dannevirke experiencing its wettest October since records began in 1951.  Much of the precipitation in these three regions fell on the 4th, during the significant snowfall event.  Rainfall was also above normal (between 120 and 150 percent of normal) in Manawatu-Wanganui, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.  Rainfall totals were near normal (between 80 and 120 percent of normal) in the Tasman District, central Otago, Auckland, Taranaki and western parts of Northland. In contrast, it was very dry on the West Coast and Fiordland, with only about half of normal October rainfall recorded there.   

 

Record or near-record October rainfall totals were recorded at: 

Location Rainfall total (mm) Percentage

of normal

Year

records began

Comments
Dannevirke 207 221 1951 Highest
Gisborne 152 266 1905 4th-highest
Waipawa 133 215 1945 3rd-highest
Wellington 161 171 1958 4th-highest
Ohakune 254 191 1961 3rd-highest
Wanganui 142 175 1987 3rd-highest
Blenheim 139 204 1927 4th-highest

 

Sunshine:  very sunny ON THE WEST COAST; DULL in wellington, wairarapa, and TARANAKI 

October sunshine totals were well above normal (more than 125 percent of normal) on the West Coast and in Fiordland.  It was the second sunniest October at Greymouth in over 60 years, with a whopping 233 hours of bright sunshine. In contrast, sunshine totals were below normal (between 65 and 90 percent of normal) for Taranaki, Wellington and the Wairarapa. Elsewhere, sunshine totals were in the near normal range.   

Record or near-record October sunshine hours were recorded at: 

Location Sunshine (hours) Percentage

Of normal

Year

records began

Comments
Hokitika 218 138 1964 4th-highest
Greymouth 233 162 1947 2nd-highest
         
Martinborough 158 85 1986 3rd-lowest
Wallaceville 110 65 1939 4th-lowest
Stratford 130 76 1963 3rd-lowest

 

OCTOBER CLIMATE IN THE SIX MAIN CENTRES  

October temperatures were the lowest on record for Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin; were well below average in Auckland, below average in Hamilton, and near normal in Tauranga.  Monthly rainfalls were well above normal for all of the main centres except Dunedin (with below normal rainfall). Sunshine totals for October were near normal in all main centres except for Christchurch, which experienced 219 hours of bright sunshine in October. Of the six main centres, Tauranga was the warmest, Wellington the wettest, Dunedin the coolest and driest, and Christchurch the sunniest.   

October 2009 main centre climate statistics:  

Location Mean

temp.

(°C)

Departure

from normal

(°C)

  Rainfall

(mm)

% of

normal

  Sunshine

(hours)

% of

normal

 
Aucklanda 12.8 -1.7 Well below average 104 120% Well above normal 175 98% Near normal
Taurangab 13.5 -0.3 Near average 152 170% Well above normal 214 107% Near normal
Hamilton 12.2 -0.7 Below average 163 170% Well above normal 178e 101% Near normal
Wellingtonc 10.4 -1.6 Lowest on record 206 179% Well above normal 179 93% Near normal
Christchurchd 9.5 -2.2 Lowest on record 83 170% Well above normal 219 110% Above normal
Dunedin 9.0 -1.5 Lowest on record 40 61% Below normal 152 103% Near normal

a Mangere      b Tauranga Airport      c Kelburn     d Christchurch Airport    e Ruakura   
 

HIGHLIGHTS AND EXTREME EVENTS 

  • Temperature

 

The highest temperature in October 2009 was 24.3°C recorded at Whangarei on the 17th (4th highest October temperature at this site).  

Record cold or near-record cold afternoon conditions were experienced on October 4th/5th in many North Island locations, associated with the heavy snowfall and bitterly cold southeast winds over the central North Island, as well as on the 9th at numerous southern sites, associated with another snowfall event in the southeast South Island.   

Extreme daily maximum air temperatures were recorded at:  

Location Extreme maximum

temperature

(ºC)

Date of extreme temperature Year

Records

began

Comments
Whangarei 24.3 17th 1967 4th-highest
         
Kaitaia 11.7 5th 1972 Lowest
Kaikohe 12.4 5th 1973 4th-lowest
Dargaville 11.0 5th 1951 Lowest
Whangarei 12.7 5th 1967 2nd-lowest
Warkworth 10.7 5th 1966 Lowest
Whangaparaoa 10.0 5th 1982 Lowest
Whenuapai 11.0 5th 1951 Lowest
Whitianga 11.8 5th 1972 Lowest
Paeroa 8.1 5th 1972 Lowest
Tauranga 9.4 5th 1941 Lowest
Te Puke 8.6 5th 1973 Lowest
Whakatane 12.1 5th 1975 4th-lowest
Rotorua 7.6 5th 1972 Lowest
Taupo 8.2 5th 1950 3rd-lowest
Auckland 10.6 5th 1961 Lowest
Pukekohe 8.2 5th 1972 Lowest
Whatawhata 8.9 5th 1952 Lowest
Hamilton, Ruakura 8.2 5th 1940 Lowest
Hamilton 8.4 5th 1946 Lowest
Port Taharoa 9.7 5th 1974 Lowest
Te Kuiti 7.7 5th 1959 Lowest
Taumarunui 7.6 5th 1947 Lowest
Turangi 7.8 5th 1968 Equal 2nd-lowest
New Plymouth 9.4 4th 1944 Lowest
Takapau Plains 5.2 5th 1972 Lowest
Dannevirke 5.3 5th 1951 Lowest
Castlepoint 8.0 6th 1972 Lowest
Martinborough 9.4 4th 1986 4th-lowest
Ngawi 9.1 5th 1972 Lowest
Hastings 8.6 5th 1972 Lowest
Waipawa 7.4 4th 1945 Lowest
Wairoa, North Clyde 9.1 5th 1972 Lowest
Paraparaumu 10.1 4th 1972 2nd-lowest
Palmerston North 8.1 5th 1940 Lowest
Levin 10.3 4th 1950 4th-lowest
Wellington 9.4 9th 1972 Equal 2nd-lowest
Stratford 6.0 4th 1972 Lowest
Hawera 8.4 4th 1977 Lowest
Ohakune 2.6 5th 1972 Lowest
Waiouru 1.0 5th 1972 Lowest
Wanganui,Spriggens Park 8.9 4th 1972 Lowest
Westport 9.8 9th 1966 Lowest
Lake Rotoiti 6.2 9th 1972 2nd-lowest
Reefton 6.4 9th 1972 Lowest
Greymouth 8.5 9th 1972 Lowest
Motueka, Riwaka 10.0 9th 1972 Lowest
Blenheim 8.8 9th 1947 Lowest
Cape Campbell 7.4 9th 1972 Lowest
Hanmer Forest 3.4 9th 1972 2nd-lowest
Kaikoura 6.0 9th 1972 Lowest
Arthurs Pass 1.0 9th 1978 Lowest
Culverden 3.0 9th 1930 Lowest
Winchmore 5.9 9th 1928 2nd-lowest
Waipara West 5.6 9th 1973 Lowest
Darfield 7.7 9th 1954 3rd-lowest
Christchurch 6.6 9th 1863 Equal lowest
Lincoln, Broadfield 6.9 9th 1881 Equal 2nd-lowest
Le Bons Bay 5.5 9th 1984 2nd-lowest
Lumsden 6.8 26th 1982 4th-lowest

 

The lowest October temperature of -5.5 °C was recorded at Ranfurly on the 5th (not an October record). 

Extreme low daily minimum air temperatures were recorded at:  

Location Extreme minimum

temperature

(ºC)

Date of extreme temperature Year

Records

began

Comments
Warkworth 2.4 30th 1966 Lowest
Whangaparaoa 5.9 5th 1982 Lowest
Pukekohe 1.6 30th 1969 4th-lowest
Dannevirke -2.3 21st 1951 4th-lowest
Hokitika -0.9 5th 1866 4th-lowest
Haast -0.4 29th 1949 Equal 3rd-lowest
Puysegur Point 3.0 4th 1978 4th-lowest
Appleby (Nelson) -0.7 6th 1943 4th-lowest
Le Bons Bay 1.7 10th 1984 Equal lowest
Dunedin (Airport)  -3.3 7th 1947 Lowest
Queenstown -3.5 5th 1871 Lowest
Lumsden -4.3 5th 1982 Lowest

 

  • Heavy rain and flooding

 

The highest 1-day rainfall total for October was 89 mm, recorded at Motu (Gisborne) on the 4th (not an October record at this site). Other record or near-record 1-day rainfall totals for October are shown below.     

Record or near record high extreme 1-day rainfall totals were recorded at:  

Location 
 
Extreme 1-day rainfall

(mm)

Date of extreme rainfall Year

Records

Began

Comments 
 
Takapau Plains 48 4th 1962 3rd-highest
Dannevirke 48 4th 1951 4th-highest
Gisborne 62 4th 1937 3rd-highest
Wairoa, North Clyde 70 4th 1967 4th-highest
Blenheim 50 8th 1927 2nd-highest
Timaru Harbour 56 19th 1942 Highest

 

Heavy rain in Bay of Plenty on 5 October, caused slips in Tauranga, flooded businesses in Rotorua, and caused a 30 m high Acacia tree to fall, blocking the road at Pongakawa.  

Heavy rain in the early hours of 9 October caused surface flooding in Wellington, and closed the Johnsonville railway line.  

On 14 October, at 7.30 pm, a slip closed SH3 just north of New Plymouth. One lane was opened about 8 pm.  

Heavy rain in Wellington on 15-16 October caused surface flooding on SH1 north of the city, as well as causing slips in Lower Hutt and Evans Bay Parade. 

SH1 was closed by flooding near Marton, south of Wanganui, on 18 October. 

  • High winds

 

The highest wind gust for October was 148 km/hr, recorded at Southwest Cape (Stewart Island) on the 21st (not an October record at this site).   

Gusty cross-winds forced the closure of New Plymouth airport for 20 hours from 3 pm on 4 October. The strong winds also brought down trees and cut the power supply to about 1000 properties in Taranaki, particularly Okato, Oakura, and Hawera. Power was also cut to about 1200 homes in Rotorua distict after high winds brought down trees. 

High winds on 5 October, together with the heavy snow, brought down trees and power poles in the central North Island, leaving about 1300 people without power. Some properties were without power for four days.  

Stock losses, particularly late born lambs, occurred in the Wairarapa during the first week in October, after several days of strong, very cold, southerly winds.  

Record high extreme wind gusts for October were recorded at:  

Location 
 
Extreme wind gust speed (km/hr) Date of extreme gust Year

Records

Began

Comments 
 
Hawera 96 9th 1986 Highest

 

  • Snow and ice

 

On 3 October, 20 cm of snow was reported to low levels in Fiordland and Southland. Coronet Peak skifield received 7 cm of fresh powder overnight on 2-3 October, while Treble Cone received 20 cm of snow, and Cardrona 15 cm.  

Overnight, 4-5 October, several hundred motorists were stranded in up to 50cm of snow along the Napier- Taupo Highway. Most were rescued by the army, but some spent the night in their vehicles. Snow was reported as far north as Te Aroha and Katikati, and on Mt Taranaki. Unexpected snow in the Motu-Matawai area, and further south at Te Pohue, caused significant losses in newborn lambs and calves.  

Roads closed by snow on 5 October were SH1 between Turangi and Taihape, SH5 from Taupo to Napier, SH38 in the Urewera National Park, SH47 at Turangi, SH49 from its junction with SH4 to Waiouru. The Desert Road, Napier-Taupo Road and SH38 remained closed until 7 October.  

On 6 October, Waikato residents woke to see snow on Mt Pirongia and Mt Te Aroha. A DoC ranger reported 15 cm of snow on the road up Mt Te Aroha, the heaviest fall since 1978. On Mt Taranaki, skiers could not reach the Manganui ski field because the access road was blocked by fallen trees. About 20-25 cm of snow covered the road. At North Egmont car park a car was trapped in snow, forcing the owner to spend the night in the hut. Snow was also reported in the Rotorua district, for the first time in about 30 years.  

Snow started falling in Central Otago in the evening on 8 October, and further north in Canterbury, it was reported in Darfield and Kirwee early in the morning of 9 October. Mt Hutt ski field received about 50 cm of new snow. 

  • Hail

 

Hail was reported in central Wellington on 5 October, during the morning commute to work. 

Unseasonal, localised hail hit kiwifruit country around Tauranga and Te Puke several times in the last week of October, with heavy kiwifruit losses likely.    






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