The Dominion Post

January a record dry month for Wellington

- OLIVIA WANNAN

IT WAS records rather than rain that fell in January, which was one of the sunniest and warmest Wellington has seen.

Parts of the capital experience­d their driest month on record, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheri­c Research’s monthly climate summary.

Just 2mm of rain in total fell at Wellington Airport, the lowest since records were first kept there in 1958. The 4mm of rain at Paraparaum­u was the least the area had seen in 70 years. Such numbers made Wellington the driest centre in the country so far in 2015.

The high-pressure systems behind January’s dry spells also brought lots of sun.

Paraparaum­u had a 62-year recording-breaking 333 hours of sunshine last month – more than 10 hours each day, on average.

An observatio­n station at Wallacevil­le, Upper Hutt, recorded 284 hours of sun, the most since records began in 1939.

Temperatur­e records also fell in the climate summary. On average, the daily high in Masterton reached 27.5 degrees Celsius, the hottest in 23 years. Despite not being recordbrea­kers, average temperatur­es in the capital were ‘‘well’’ above normal.

Levin had its fourth warmest day in 120 years when temperatur­es hit 29.7C on January 31.

Between January 25 and 28, Wellington recorded a four-day ‘‘warm spell’’ in which it was at least 25C each day at Kelburn. This was equal to the second-longest spell in the city’s history, since records started in 1927.

The hottest temperatur­e nationwide was 36C recorded in Timaru on January 16.

Even with the early rain in February – 10mm over two days was almost twice the amount recorded in the whole of January – soils remained dry in Wellington and the Wairarapa.

Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino said spotty showers and cool weather were forecast for the lower North Island this week.

‘‘It’ll be a stark contrast from what most of the country has experience­d since Christmas-time.’’

However, the warmth should return after the cooler spell, with above-average temperatur­es expected over the next three months in Wellington.

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