March hotter, drier than usual
Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Warm weather, loads of sunshine and little rain made March another month of "summer and drought", the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says.

The national average temperature was 16.5degC, 0.8degC above average, Niwa's monthly climate summary says.

Waikato, western Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and the west of the South Island had temperatures 1degC above average, the rest of the North Island, Marlborough, Westland and parts of Canterbury and Otago were 0.5degC above and Waikato, the central Plateau, Manawatu, South Canterbury and central Otago had average maximum temperatures 2degC above average.

The highest temperature recorded last month was 35degC at Timaru Airport, Culverden and Woodbury, Canterbury.

The highest ever temperature recorded in March was 36degC recorded in Ashburton in 1956.

High temperatures and low rainfall led to drought in many areas.

Rainfall was at or below average for most of the country except Wellington, the north of the South Island and eastern Otago where it was above average.

Severe soil moisture deficits occurred in Waikato, King Country, south Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa and central Marlborough until March 29.

Significant moisture deficits occurred in the west of the North Island and east of the South Island.

"Rainfall in the last two days of the month recovered the situation somewhat in Taranaki and Manawatu and to a lesser extent in the Waikato."

Heavy rainfall of 100mm fell on March 30 at Stratford helped in Taranaki.

Sunshine hours were above average around the country, particularly in the south, but the east of the North Island and Golden Bay recorded average sunshine hours.

Auckland was the warmest of the five main centres. Wellington was the wettest and sunniest and Christchurch was the driest.

- NZPA

From here .