Chills and spills: Autumn conditions continue

May 7, 2017

After a wash-out last weekend, New Zealanders have welcomed a series of crisp, clear autumn days to finish up the week.  On Saturday, the 53rd Rotorua marathon went ahead in ideal conditions, with light winds and cool temperatures contributing to the fastest winning time since 2001.  Although temperatures around the country struggled to make it out of the teens – Kawerau alone broke 20C on Saturday – bluebird skies and light winds over the bulk of the country meant it was a great day to be outside.

The downside of clear skies is cool, frosty nights.  A series of southerly blasts since last Monday have brought cooler temperatures and dustings of snow to the hills, with temperatures dropping to -1.4C in Timaru on Friday morning and to -1.5 in Waiouru on Saturday morning.

The calm, clear conditions have been driven by high pressure sitting over New Zealand, which is slow to move off again. A low pressure system in the Tasman is held at bay for the next few days, although cloud will increase and a few showers make their way onto western parts. Winds will also switch around to the north, bringing in warmer air.  This combined with the increased cloud means warmer temperatures and fewer frosts, and also that the dry weather is coming to an end.

On Wednesday the low pressure system makes inroads onto the country, spreading rain up the West Coast and into central New Zealand.  Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Donna, which is currently curving southeast between Vanuatu and New Caledonia, is likely to have weakened considerably but could still bring an influx of tropical air to the north of New Zealand.  “There is a lot of uncertainty in TC Donna’s track”, said meteorologist Lucent Evens, “but the presence of tropical air adding to the low pressure system brings a chance of amplification and some heavy falls.  Expect some rain by the end of the week, and keep an eye on watches and warnings in case there is any severe weather mixed in.”

Satellite image showing TC Donna and a large low pressure system west of New Zealand.

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