The Dominion Post

January a record dry month for Wellington


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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