Current Climate - December 2012
It was a warm month, with more frequent northerly and northwest winds than usual affecting New Zealand. On 6 December, a tornado struck west Auckland and the North Shore. The wind brought down trees and flung them over the motorway, along with panels ripped from beside the motorway. Three people were killed by falling slabs of concrete at a construction site.
Rainfall for December was above normal in the extreme north and south of the country. Less than 50 percent of normal rainfall for December fell in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson and much of Canterbury, Otago and central Southland. For other areas, rainfall was close to normal.
At the end of December, soils were much drier than usual in Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, coastal Waikato, Nelson, parts of Canterbury and central Southland. In contrast, soils were wetter than usual in Northland. Elsewhere, soil moisture levels were close to normal for the time of year.
Well above average temperatures (greater than 1.2°C above the December average) were observed over much of the North Island, as well as around Nelson and parts of eastern South Island, resulting in several December temperature records or near-records. The remainder of the country experienced above average temperatures (between 0.5 and 1.2°C above average). The nation-wide average temperature in December 2012 was 16.7°C (1.1°C above the 1971-2000 December average), using NIWA's seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.
It was a very sunny December for the South Island and eastern North Island (with sunshine totals greater than 120 percent of December normal). In contrast, below normal sunshine totals were recorded for the northern half of the North Island (between 75 and 90 percent of December normal). Near normal sunshine totals were generally observed elsewhere.