Current Climate - February 2012
February was characterised by highs to the southeast of New Zealand, and more lows than normal over the north Tasman Sea. This produced more easterly winds than usual over the country. It was an extremely cloudy month for much of the country, due to both the moist easterly wind flows, and cooler than usual seas around New Zealand. Well below average temperatures were observed in eastern regions of both Islands, because of the onshore easterly winds, but it was a warmer than usual month for the West Coast. Rainfall for the month was rather patchy – with some very dry regions bordering extremely wet ones – in part because frequent thunderstorm activity during the month resulted in rather local rainfalls.
It was an extremely dry February for Fiordland, with less than half of February normal rainfall recorded there. Below normal rainfall (between 50 and 79 percent of February normal) was experienced in north Canterbury and the Kaikoura coast, Wairarapa, as well as parts of Waikato and northwards of the Bay of Islands. In contrast, it was very wet for inland Southland, Otago, the Lakes District, and Takaka (mainly due to the event on 22/23 February), south Canterbury, Taranaki, Gisborne, inland Hawkes Bay and inland Bay of Plenty, much of Auckland, and the Coromandel (with more than 120 percent of February normal recorded in these regions). Soil moisture levels at the end of February were above normal in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Tasman, Otago and south Canterbury. In contrast, soils were drier than usual in coastal Southland, Fiordland, Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay.
Well below average temperatures (more than 1.2°C below average) were experienced in Canterbury, as well as along the east coast of the North Island, the Central Plateau, Taupo and Bay of Plenty. Below average temperatures (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below average) were observed in coastal Otago, the Kaikoura Coast and Blenheim, as well as Wellington, the Kapiti Coast, Manawatu-Wanganui, and the Waitomo District. In contrast, above average February temperatures (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C above average) were recorded in Fiordland and along the West Coast. Elsewhere, mean temperatures for February were close to average. The nation-wide average temperature in February was 16.4°C (0.8°C below the 1971–2000 February average), using NIWA's seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.
It was an extremely cloudy February across much of New Zealand. Well below normal sunshine totals (below 75 percent of February normal) were observed between Hamilton and Dunedin. It was the cloudiest February on record for Dannevirke, Waipawa, Stratford, and Blenheim.