Climate Summary for December 2009
Very sunny in the north
Sunshine: Very sunny for the north and east of the North Island
Rainfall: Dry in the north and east of both islands; very dry in the Far North
Soil moisture: Well below normal in the Far North, Central North Island and Eastern Bay of Plenty.
Temperature: Near average for most of country.
December sunshine totals were well above normal (more than 125 percent of normal) in the north and east of the North Island and parts of North Canterbury. Much of the rest of the country received above normal sunshine (between 110 and 125 percent of normal).
Well below normal rainfall (less than 50 percent of normal) was recorded in much of the Far North District for December. It was also drier-than-normal (between 50 and 80 percent of normal) in Central North Island, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, southern Hawkes Bay, Tararua District, Wairarapa, Northern South Island, Canterbury and Otago. December rainfall was above normal (between 120 and 150 percent of normal) in the south and west of the South Island and coastal Taranaki. Soil moisture levels on 31 December 2009 were well below normal (more than 50mm below normal) in the Far North, Central North Island and Eastern Bay of Plenty.
Temperatures were near average (between -0.5°C and 0.5°C from average) for most of the country. Below average temperatures (between 0.5 and 1.0°C below average) were recorded in parts of Hawkes Bay, Kapiti, South Canterbury, West Coast and Southland. Above average temperatures were recorded in parts of Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland. The national average temperature was 15.3°C (0.3°C below the long-term December average).
During December 2009, higher than normal pressures over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand (particularly over the North Island) resulted in sunny skies and more frequent southwesterly winds over the country. This pattern is typical of El Niño conditions, and has contributed to the lower than normal rainfall in the north and east and higher than normal rainfall in the west and south of the country.
The highest temperature was 32.0°C recorded at Dunedin Airport on the 25th (2nd highest in December temperature for this site).
The lowest temperature of -3.5 °C was recorded at Lumsden on the 3rd (lowest December temperature at this site).
The highest 1-day rainfall was 197 mm, recorded at Mount Cook on the 9th (not a record).
The highest wind gust was 182 km/hr, recorded at Cape Turnagain on the 12th (not a record).
Of the six main centres, Tauranga was the warmest and sunniest, Hamilton the wettest, Christchurch and Dunedin the equal driest, and Dunedin the coolest.
Full details of the December 2009 Climate Summary
Climate statistics table
Climate statistics for December 2009
For further information, please contact:
Dr Andrew Tait – Climate Scientist – NIWA National Climate Centre, Wellington, Tel. (04) 386 0562 (work) or (027) 327 7948 (mobile); or
Dr James Renwick – Principal Scientist – NIWA National Climate Centre, Wellington, Tel. (04) 386 0343 (work) or (021) 178 5550 (mobile)