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Hot end fails to lift year above average

Thursday 10 Jan 2013 2:52 p.m.

A scorching December was not enough to lift the mercury in New Zealand for 2012 above the annual average.

The country averaged 12.5degC for the year - 0.1degC down on the historic average for 1971-2000 - according to the annual climate summary from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Figures released on Tuesday showed the country enjoyed a warm December with temperatures 1.1degC above the norm for the month.

But Niwa says extreme temperatures were lacking in 2012 with the La Nina weather pattern causing cloudy and wet conditions in the usual hot months of January and February.

"The typical summertime swelter was absent," it said.

There were periods of unseasonal warmth in the second half of July and for brief patches in August, September and October but a very cold July and unseasonably chilly November helped keep temperatures down.

A big dump of snow on June 6 resulted in temperatures struggling to reach 1degC in Canterbury and the following day Darfield recorded the year's lowest temperature of -11.8degC.

It was the sunniest year on record for Te Kuiti, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu and Greymouth, while Whakatane was the sunniest place to be, chalking up 2602 sunshine hours for the year.

It may be afflicted with odour problems at the moment, but Whanganui broke two records during 2012, enjoying its hottest day since records began in 1987 with 29.7degC on December 24 and the 765mm of rain it received was a new low.

Secretary Island in Fiordland also enjoyed its driest year with 3189mm the lowest rainfall it has had since records started being kept 32 years ago.

The wettest place was Cropp River, 52km upstream of Hokitika, where 9630mm of rain fell in the year, a staggering metre below its annual average.

Arthurs Pass (-11.2degC) and Lumsden (-8.0degC) notched new record low temperatures in the year.

New Zealand's weather records in 2012

  • Highest temperature: 34.5degC Gisborne, December 19
  • Lowest temperature: -11.8degC Darfield, June 7
  • Highest annual average temperature: 15.8degC Whangarei
  • Nationwide average temperature: 12.5degC
  • Highest wind gust: 206 km/h Cape Turnagain, December 2
  • Highest rainfall (24 hours): 336mm North Egmont
  • Highest rainfall (year): 9630mm Cropp River (West Coast)
  • Lowest rainfall (year): 378mm Alexandra
  • Highest sunshine hours: 2602 Whakatane.

Source: Niwa Annual Climate Summary

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