Current climate: December 2016

December was characterised by lower than normal pressure to the south of New Zealand and the frequent passage of highs over the North Island. This pressure anomaly led to slightly more westerly and southwesterly winds than normal across the country.

Rainfall

Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for the majority of the country during December. The exceptions were the western fringes of Southland, the West Coast, Tasman and Wellington regions where rainfall was near normal (80-119% of normal). Above normal rainfall (120-149% of normal) was recorded at a handful of locations.

Temperature

December temperatures were below average (-1.20°C to -0.51°C of average) for parts of Waikato, Taranaki, Wellington, Tasman and the West Coast. The remainder of the country experienced near average (-0.50 to +0.50°C of average) temperatures.

Sunshine

Sunshine was well above normal (>125% of normal) in the north and west of the North Island as well as parts of the West Coast, Southland and Otago. Sunshine was near normal (90-109% of normal) or above normal (110-125% of normal) for the remainder of the country.

Soil Moisture

At the end of December 2016, soil moisture levels were below normal for the time of year for much of the North Island with the driest soils compared to normal located in the Far North. Soils were also slightly drier than normal about Southland and Otago with the remainder of the South Island seeing near normal soil moisture levels.

Departure from average air temperature for December 2016.
End of month water balance in the pasture root zone for an average soil type where the available water capacity is taken to be 150 mm.
Percentage of normal rainfall for December 2016.