Climate Summary for February 2011

A tale of two islands.

A tale of two islands.

  • Rainfall:  Extremely dry across most of the North Island. Record wet for central Otago, and above normal rainfall elsewhere in the southern half of the South Island. 
  • Temperatures:  Very warm for much of the North Island. Monthly temperatures close to average over the South Island (except Nelson, Marlborough). Record-breaking heat between 2 and 7 February at many locations.
  • Sunshine: Sunny for Northland and the northern South Island. Cloudy over the southern half of the South Island. Close to normal elsewhere.
  • Soil moisture deficits:  Remain significant in southern Taranaki, Manawatu, Kapiti coast, Wellington, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough and north Canterbury. 

Weather conditions were generally settled over the North Island during February 2011, with more northwest winds than usual over the South Island. It was an extremely dry February for parts of Northland and Auckland, the Central Plateau, parts of southern Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa, and parts of Marlborough, with rainfalls less than 20 percent of February normal in these regions. It was the driest February in Dannevirke since records began there in 1951. Rainfall was also well below normal (less than 50 percent of February normal) across much of the North Island, as well as in Nelson. In contrast, it was a record wet month for central Otago, with more than double (200 percent) normal February rainfall experienced. Notably, much of this rain fell in a single extreme event on February 6th, along with record-breaking heat wave conditions. Elsewhere over the southern half of the South Island, rainfall was also above normal (between 120 and 150 percent of February normal). At the end of February, significant soil moisture deficit (deficit more than 110 mm) was evident in southern Taranaki, Manawatu, Kapiti coast, Wellington, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough and north Canterbury. 

Monthly mean temperatures were well above average (more than 1.2°C above average) across the North Island and in parts of Nelson and Marlborough. In contrast, monthly mean temperatures were close to February average (within 0.5°C of average) for the remainder of the South Island. The first half of February was scorching warm, with record-breaking heat experienced between 2 and 7 February at numerous locations over the entire length of the country – but cooler conditions prevailed in the second half of the month. Timaru recorded 41.3°C on the 6th, a new February and also all-time temperature record there since records began in 1885. The New Zealand national average temperature was 17.9°C (0.7°C above the 1971–2000 February average).

February sunshine totals were above normal (between 110 and 125 percent of February normal) in Northland and over the northern half of the South Island. In contrast, below normal sunshine totals (between 75 and 90 percent of February normal) were experienced over the southern half of the South Island. Elsewhere, sunshine totals in February were close to normal (within 10 percent of normal).

Further Highlights:

  • The highest temperature recorded was 41.3°C recorded at Timaru (Gardens) on the 6th (a new February and also all-time record for Timaru).
  • The lowest temperature recorded was 1.1°C recorded at Hanmer Forest on the10th.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall of 245.2 mm occurred at Mt. Cook Hermitage on the 6th.
  • The highest gust was 170.5 km/hr, recorded at Cape Turnagain on the 2nd.
  • Of the six main centres, Tauranga was the warmest, driest and sunniest, and Dunedin was the coolest and wettest. 

Full report

February 2011 climate summary (PDF 62 KB)

Climate statistics table

Climate statistics for February 2011 (PDF 83 KB)

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths – Climate Scientist– NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland, Tel.  (09) 375 4506 or (027) 293 6545 (mobile)

Dr Andrew Tait – Principal Scientist – NIWA National Climate Centre, Wellington, Tel. (04) 386 0562 (work) or (027) 327 7948 (mobile)