December 2005 warmer, drier than previous two years

With the proliferation of automatic weather stations, manual weather recordings for Tawa will cease at year’s end. Summaries of the readings taken over the 3 years to 2005 will be progressively published to provide background data for the recently installed automatic weather station.

These manual readings are obviously subjective, and represent the microclimate where the observations were made. However, gardeners might find the data of use in understanding germination, flowering and other crop problems.

Tawa’s climate during December 2005 was warmer, drier but foggier than the previous two years.

Readings taken at Tawa:
The lowest December temperatures were 8 (2003), 6 (2004) and 9 (2005).
The average daily low temperatures were 14 (2003), 11 (2004) and 15 (2005).
The highest December temperatures were 24 (2003), 26 (2004) and 27 (2005).
The average daily high temperatures were 21 (2003), 19 (2004) and 24 (2005).

Days with frost: none in any of the three years.
Days with rain: 16 (2003), 15 (2004), 13 (2005).
Days with thunderstorms: 1 (2003), 1 (2005).
Days with hail: none in any of the three years.
Days with strong winds: 8 (2003), 8 (2004), 10 (2005).
Days with fog: 2 (2003), 4 (2005)

No flood events were recorded in any of the three December months between 2003 and 2005.

December 2003 was notable for high wind events on several days. Strong nor’easters on the 6th were followed by a period of calm drizzly weather which lasted until the 12th when fog set in, lasting through the 13th until driven off by gusty nor’easters on the morning of the 14th. Sunny, calm conditions set in and temperatures began rising until the 20th when Tawa and the Wellington region were battered by northerly gales which caused significant tree and shrub damage.

Strong winds from all northerly quarters continued on the 21st December 2003, and temperatures declined to the low teens on the 23rd and 24th before recovering slightly. Christmas Day was dry with warm gusty nor’westers which changed to the north east and increased to gale force on the 26th. The 28th was a wild, windy day, with intermittent downpours, thunder and lightning, and house gutters overflowed several times between 0530 and 0700. The northerly conditions eased but then swung abruptly to the south on the 30th bringing cool damp conditions.

December 2004 started calmly with the temperature reaching an encouraging 22 degrees on the 1st – the thermometer would not return to the twenties again for another week. Drizzly, misty, low-cloud conditions prevailed on the 2nd before a strong northerly arose for most of the morning of the 3rd. Calmer conditions, with the thermometer only reaching the mid-teens, then set in. Late on the 5th, a southerly gale sent temperatures plunging into single digits, and Tawa residents resurrected their heaters which had been carefully packed away for the summer.

Sunny conditions then sent the temperatures slowly rising until the 8th when the thermometer finally reached 21 degrees followed by misty showery weather. The 10th was a dismal day with damp conditions and the temperature hovering near 8 degrees until late morning. This scenario was repeated on the 11th and 12th but the temperature slowly rose toward the late teens on both days.

Northerly gales on the 13th December 2004 were accompanied by a sickly yellow dusk. Conditions improved until the early morning of the 16th when a downpour caused gutters to overflow. This was followed by strong westerly winds on the 17th which changed to strong southerlies late on the 18th and temperatures again plunged to single digits. Once again, Tawa residents reached for their heaters as the temperature hung around 8 degrees before finally reaching 15 mid-afternoon on the 19th.

Calm cool conditions then prevailed until the 27th when temperatures again broke through the 20 degree barrier. This period was punctuated by strong northerlies on the 23rd and strong nor’westers on the 26th, and a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the Southern Ocean west of the Auckland Islands on Christmas Eve. Conditions then eased to warmer calmer weather until the month’s end.

December 2005 was notable for a return to more typical weather patterns seen in the 1990s. Still, warm weather applied on the 1st until a gusty northerly arose mid-afternoon on the 2nd. These conditions applied until the wind eased early on the 4th. Later in the day, the northerlies returned with renewed vigour and rain set in.

On the 6th, a spectacular thunderstorm dominated the workday which had started brightly. Light levels plunged from 0830 until gloomy conditions heralded the arrival of the thunderstorm at 0900. Stranded commuters were treated to nature’s pyrotechnics amid heavy rain and gusty winds from west, north and easterly quarters. A major truck accident on Wellington’s urban motorway added to the woes and many commuters did not get to work until late morning. (See “Summer Storm” article under Weather Observations).

Still conditions returned until late morning on the 8th when gusty northerlies arose. Drizzle and low cloud then moved in, and fog dominated the Tawa Valley overnight on the 9th and 10th, finally clearing mid-afternoon. Still conditions returned until the 20th with fog closing Wellington International Airport for the morning of the 13th, and causing Tawa’s hills to disappear. Fog again made its presence felt on the 18th.

Gusty northerlies arose on the 20th and dominated until late the following day when still conditions again returned. Light breezes occurred intermittently until a gusty northerly again rose on the 30th. Temperatures throughout the month steadily improved, reaching a daytime maximum of 26 on the 13th, followed by 4 days when the thermometer reached 27 degrees. Daily maximums eased back into the low 20s between the 20th and 26th before again rising.

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