March 2007 Drier Than Previous Three Years

Tawa’s climate during March 2007 was the warmest and driest since 2004, and similar to temperatures experienced during March 2003.

Automatic and manual readings taken at Tawa since 2003 can be summarised as follows:

The lowest March temperatures were 8 °C (2003), 6 °C (2004), 7.1 °C (2005), 5.0 °C (2006), 7.1 °C (2007).
The average daily low temperatures were 12 °C (2003), 12 °C (2004), 14 °C (2005), 11 °C (2006), 14 °C (2007).
The highest March temperatures were 30 °C (2003), 22 °C (2004), 25 °C (2005), 23.3 °C (2006), 27.5 °C (2007).
The average daily high temperatures were 23 °C (2003), 18 °C (2004), 21 °C (2005), 19 °C (2006), 22 °C (2007).

Average temperature: 16.3 °C (2005), 14.7 °C (2006), 17.6 °C (2007).
Average humidity: 85% (2005), 81% (2006), 80% (2007).

Days with frost: none (2003), none (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007).
Days with rain: 6 (2003), 10 (2004), 18 (2005), 13 (2006), 7 (2007).
Days with thunderstorms: 1 (2003), 1 (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007).
Days with hail: none (2003), none (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007).
Days with strong winds: 2 (2003), 2 (2004), 10 (2005), 11 (2006), 8 (2007).
Flood events: none (2003) none (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007).
Low cloud/fog days: no data (2003) no data (2004), see notes (2005), 5 (2006), 2 (2007).
Rainfall: 101 mm (2005), 91 mm (2006), 34 mm (2007).

March 2003 started with hot and humid weather, with the mercury reaching 30 °C on the first and 29 °C the following day. Drought conditions applied from about the 7th, with a few spits of rain on the 11th. The dry spell was broken by a day of fine misty drizzle on the 29th, while spectacular thunderstorms over Kapiti lit up the northern sky during the evening of the 30th with impressive multiple flashes, sometimes 4 or 5 at a time.

March 2004 was much cooler than the previous year, but otherwise unremarkable. A southerly cold snap dropped temperatures from the 28th until the month’s end, with a thunderstorm that evening.

Temperatures were warmer during March 2005, but it was windier. The weather station recorded 101 mm of rain in Tawa, and the operator began noting down the 4 days that had low cloud or fog.

A southerly gale on March 3rd 2006 set the tone for the first part of the month, and the mercury plummeted to 8 °C overnight. 12 metre swells in Cook Strait played havoc with the inter-island ferry services, which were cancelled after vehicles were damaged and passengers experienced an 8 hour nightmare instead of the usual 3½ hour trip. Things were very rough in Canterbury.

Temperatures improved from the 7th, with the odd still day resulting in single figure temperatures overnight. Another southerly gale on the 24th, sent temperatures down again and, apart from a bright, warm 23 °C on the 27th, March 2006 ended with cool temperatures. There were 5 days with low cloud or fog, but rainfall was lower than the previous year at 91 mm.

March 2007 fulfilled the hopes of a late or Indian summer. A strong northerly late on the 1st yielded to still conditions which persisted until a gusty nor’easter sprung up on the morning of the 5th. Sunny days with light winds then dominated until a dawn downpour on the 13th broke a 17-day dry spell. At 11:05 p.m. the western part of the Wellington region from Johnsonville to the Kapiti Coast and parts of the Hutt Valley were abruptly plunged into darkness by a total power failure. It was alleged that the failure was caused by a lightning strike on the Kapiti Coast, but this has not been verified. Power was restored at Tawa just after 2 a.m. on the 14th.

After the bright conditions, the 13th and 14th felt gloomy with low cloud, showers and a northerly gale. The 14th was somewhat stormy with intermittent downpours across the Wellington region, with a peak rain rate of 189.5 mm/hr being measured at Tawa at 12:09 p.m. The weather eased to calm sunny conditions on the 16th before strong north and nor’west winds brought more showers on the 17th and 18th.

The 18th was a memorable day as we adjusted to the return to standard time. An unusual strong westerly blew for 2-3 hours during the afternoon as many of us listened to reports of the lahar which had finally drained Mt. Ruapehu’s crater lake after 11 years.

Apart from gusty northerlies on the 19th and 21st, calm sunny conditions then held sway until the evening of the 28th when drizzle set in but was not sufficient to tip the buckets in the automatic rain gauge. The thermometer began rising on the 29th under the influence of a blocking high that contributed to a deluge that brought a 100-year flood event to residents of the Northland Peninsula. Tawa’s highest temperature of the month was achieved when the thermometer hit 27.5 ºC on the 30th. The 31st was somewhat cooler but hardly took the shine off a pleasant month.

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