January 2008 Warmer, Drier

Tawa’s climate during January 2008 was warmer and drier than conditions recorded since 2004.

January 2004, despite the odd bright day, was memorable for a windy and cloudy period that became known as Wellington’s “year without a summer”.

January 2005 was memorable for a region-wide flood event which commenced with steady rainfall causing flooding in the Hutt Valley and on the Kapiti Coast on Thursday the 6th. Rain eased the following day but again fell in earnest, isolating the Wellington region from the rest of the North Island by cutting both state highways with landslides and floodwater on Saturday 8th. Surface flooding was experienced by a number of suburbs, including Tawa.

January 2006 was windier than the previous three years, with a gust of 165 km/h being recorded at Mt Kaukau on the 3rd. A downpour on the 25th brought surface flooding to Tawa when 32 mm of rain fell.

January 2007 started on a chill note as the cold southerly storm which battered many parts of the country on New Year’s Eve slowly abated. Temperatures did not return to more normal January values until the 7th and the month’s highest temperature of 29.8 ºC was recorded on the 12th. Sea fog closed Wellington International Airport on the 13th disrupting the travel plans of 4,000 passengers as 86 flights were cancelled.

Summery conditions resumed a few days later and, apart from a day of low cloud, drizzle and high humidity on the 23rd, persisted until the end of the month. Unlike 2005, it wasn’t the weather that threatened isolation of the Wellington region during January 2007. State Highway 2 was closed for 8 hours on the 21st when a truck and trailer unit overturned, crushing a car on the Wairarapa side of the Rimutaka Hill Road. The resulting snarl-up of holiday-season traffic brought many roads to a crawl as traffic was forced to take very long detours to access Wellington via State Highway 1 near Levin.

January 2008 seemed to be following the previous year’s pattern when thermometers plunged to 7 ºC early on the morning of the 1st, recording the lowest minimum temperature for the month. It was a temporary setback, however, and temperatures rose amid sunny still days during the first week, apart from a strong nor’easter which stirred things up on the 3rd.

The 7th was a drizzly day of low cloud and fog and steady rain set in with the conditions persisting until the 9th. when a gusty northerly chased the murk away. Sunny calm days returned until low cloud gathered on the 13th and a strong northerly joined in the next day. A burst of showers on the 15th marked a change and the sunny calm weather returned until the 21st, punctuated by a boisterous northerly on the 17th.

Tropical Cyclone Funa deepened to a category 4 cyclone on the 19th, and forecasts expected it to create some entertainment for New Zealand. On the 21st, Funa was tracking southward from Norfolk Island, and brought rain to the Northland region. In Tawa the temperature shot up to 26 ºC by mid-morning and it became oppressively humid and still. A brief burst of showers around 6:30 p.m. cooled things down and were most welcome. A strong northerly gale brought showers, low cloud and fog into the valley of Tawa the next day.

The disturbance was short-lived however, as Funa collapsed into a deep depression and moved swiftly eastward across the centre of the country. By the 23rd conditions were improving and calm sunny conditions returned on the 24th. Apart from a few cloudy periods, the warm sunny days dominated the weather until the end of January.

The January maximum temperature of 30.3 ºC was recorded on the 29th, topping off a classic summer month. The warmest day (24.9 ºC) since the Tawa automatic weather station began collecting data in 2005 was recorded on the 29th as was the warmest night (21.5 ºC) on the 22nd. These values are calculated from temperatures recorded between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (for the warmest day) and 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. (for the warmest night).

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

The lowest January temperatures were 7 °C (2003), 10 °C (2004), 8.2 °C (2005), 8.2 °C (2006), 6.2 °C (2007), 7.5 ºC (2008).
The average daily low temperatures were 13 °C (2003), 12 °C (2004), 11 °C (2005), 13 °C (2006), 13 °C (2007), 14 ºC (2008).
The highest January temperatures were 29 °C (2003), 28 °C (2004), 28.3 °C (2005), 29.7 °C (2006), 29.8 °C (2007), 30.3 ºC (2008).
The average daily high temperatures were 23 °C (2003), 19 °C (2004) 18 °C (2005), 23 °C (2006), 21 °C (2007), 24 ºC (2008).
Average temperature: 17.7 °C (2005), 18.0 °C (2006) 17.0 °C (2007), 18.9 ºC (2008).
Average humidity: 80% (2005), 75% (2006), 83% (2007), 74% (2008).

Days with frost: no data (2003), none (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007), none (2008).
Days with rain: no data (2003), 11 (2004), 10 (2005), 8 (2006), 17 (2007), 7 (2008).
Days with thunderstorms: no data (2003), none (2004), 1 (2005), none (2006), none (2007), none (2008).
Days with hail: no data (2003), none (2004), none (2005), none (2006), none (2007), none (2008).
Days with strong winds: no data (2003), 7 (2004), 5 (2005), 15 (2006), 2 (2007), 7 (2008).
Flood events: no data (2003) none (2004), 1 (2005), none (2006), none (2007), none (2008).
Rainfall: 99 mm (2005), 58 mm (2006), 66 mm (2007), 54 mm (2008).

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