Continued warmth, but more muted than was seen in February

March 1, 2016

It was an exceptionally hot February, with many regions running between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius above the norm. “Temperatures in the lower North Island and upper South Island surpassed even the brutal heat of February 1998,” said MetService Meteorologist Georgina Griffiths. It was the warmest month on record (of any month) for Taupo, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Paraparaumu, Wellington and Nelson. Tauranga equalled its warmest February ever and Dunedin observed a record hot February, too. Many other locations such as Hamilton, Masterton, Napier, Blenheim, Christchurch and Invercargill, experienced their second warmest February on record.

March is forecast to continue running warmer than usual overall, for most regions of the country. The exceptions are Southland and Otago, where closer to average temperatures are expected. “Above average temperatures are forecast to linger through March for most regions of New Zealand,” commented Griffiths. “But we expect the warmth in March will be far more muted than was seen last month.” Even with the expectation of a mild March, there will still be cold snaps across the country.

Blocking highs are likely to prevail in the New Zealand region to start March, bringing a dry start to the month for most regions. However, we should see a return to more mobile weather systems (such as cold fronts) during the second week of March.

Above normal March rainfall totals are forecast for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Southland and Otago, and along the West Coast of the South Island. A drier than usual March is predicted for Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. In all other regions, closer to normal March rainfall is forecast, with the expectation that the first half of March swings on the drier side, while the second half of the month yields better rainfall.

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