Looking back at the weather for 2014

Talking temperatures, 2014 will be remembered for being somewhat back-to-front. With a cooler than usual start and finish to the year for much of the country, the middle months of 2014 were very mild.

Overall, 2014 ended up looking ‘about average’ with respect to temperature for many parts of the country. The exception was the north-eastern parts of both Islands, which were warmer than usual, as well as between Whanganui and Wellington. Tauranga, Napier and Nelson experienced their third warmest year. But the year was actually a roller-coaster of temperatures, swinging from unusually cold to extremely warm, and back again.

With regards to rainfall, 2014 exhibited large swings between very dry periods and extremely wet ones. This reflected the weather patterns flip-flopping between Highs parked over the country, north Tasman Lows that resulted in wet conditions for northern New Zealand, and cold, stormy southwesterlies.

It was a drier than normal year for much of the country. The exceptions were Northland, Gisborne and Oamaru (wetter than usual); and the southwest of the South Island, as well as Auckland and Wellington (with near normal annual rainfall observed). In the case of Northland, north Tasman Lows produced several deluges, while southern New Zealand was battered by southwesterlies on occasion. True to form, rainfall in 2014 yo-yoed between extended dry periods and extreme wet spells, making for another very challenging year for farmers and growers around the country.

The most damaging weather events of the year included Cyclone Ita (17-18 April, also known as the Easter Storm), which brought heavy rain and gales from Northland down to Nelson, and punishing winds to the West Coast; a rapidly developing Low near Whangarei which produced heavy rain and severe gales for northern New Zealand on June 10-11; and the Canterbury floods of March 4-5.

Temperatures month by month

January was unusually cold across much of New Zealand, leaving many people wondering when summer would arrive. In contrast, April and June were extremely mild, with Kiwis questioning where winter was.

May temperatures were above average for the South Island, while numerous temperature records were broken right across the country in April and June. Nationally, it was the warmest June on record. September temperatures were also above average for the North Island, and it was the warmest September on record for Tauranga.

In contrast, October saw frequent southwesterlies and several significant snowfall events. Notably, November refused to warm up for most regions – it was unusually chilly for western and inland areas, with frequent hail events across the country, and extremely late frosts for many. Cooler temperatures continued into December, but were rapidly replaced by warmer northerlies over the country.

Rainfall month by month

For much of the country, February and March were extremely dry (the notable exception being Canterbury). It was the second-driest March on record for Hamilton, with only 6mm of rainfall observed.

April was extremely wet across New Zealand, with Cyclone Ita having a large impact on many regions. Wellington experienced the second wettest April on record.

May was rather dry for many areas, with Tauranga observing its third driest May.

It was a very wet June for the North Island due to the warm northerly winds: Auckland experienced its third wettest June since records began, and Tauranga was close behind with its fourth wettest June.

July and August were rather dry for parts of the South Island, while it was a sopping wet September for the North Island. Auckland observed its third wettest September.

October was very dry across most of the country. By the end of a windy November, the prolonged dry spell in the northeast of the South Island had started to take its toll, with abnormally dry soils there.

The return of humid northerlies mid December produced useful rainfall for north-facing regions-Nelson, Northland and the Bay of Plenty.

Regional summaries

Northland: a wetter and warmer year with back-to-back extremes

Kaitaia Weather Summary 2014Whangarei Weather Summary 2014


Auckland: an unusual year

Auckland Weather Summary 2014

Tauranga: a very warm year

Tauranga Weather Summary 2014

Hamilton: dry start to the year; temperatures yo-yoed

Hamilton Weather Summary 2014

Wellington: a mild year overall

Wellington Weather Summary 2014

Christchurch: a year of extremes

Dunedin: frequent southwesterlies and a drier year overall

Dunedin Weather Summary 2014


The information above was prepared by MetService meteorologists Georgina Griffiths and John Law. More detailed information for each region has been provided to your local media outlets for their use.

Latest information on North Island thunderstorms 6 December 2012

Around midday on Thursday 6 December an active trough line passed slowly through Auckland. One of these thunderstorm cells contained a tornado which touched down near Hobsonville, tragically killing three people.

This blog post has been set up to keep you informed of the latest developments in this weather system as it travels south-east from Auckland.

Auckland radar image at 12.15pm 6 Dec 2012
Auckland radar image at 12.15pm 6 Dec 2012

Situation update as at 9.30am 7 December 2012

Further squally showers and one or two thunderstorms are expected in the West from Auckland to the Kapiti Coast today. We could see gusts to 110km/hr accompanying heavy showers. There is also a potential for small hail to 10-15mm. Showers clear overnight and the weather looks mostly dry for Auckland over the weekend.

Update as at 6.00pm 6 December 2012

Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings have been lifted. This is the last blog update for today, but keep an eye out for tomorrow’s weather as there are still Severe Weather Warnings and Watches in place for heavy rain and gales in places. The Severe Thunderstorm Outlook is still in place here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-thunderstorm-outlook

Update as at 5.00pm 6 December 2012

A report of a tornado in Ngongotaha refers to part of the same system that struck Hobsonville earlier in the day, and has been the subject of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. This cell is now moving over Mahia and out to sea.

Update as at 4.30pm 6 December 2012

The last active thunderstorm is moving in towards Lake Waikaremoana and is expected to dissipate. The remainder of eastern Waikato and BOP are still experiencing some heavy showers and occasional thunderclap, but this is expected to clear during the evening.

Update as at 3.30pm 6 December 2012

The active line of showers and thunderstorms is expected to clear Auckland CBD by 3.30pm. Active thunderstorms are now moving into the Bay of Plenty and there are Watches and Warnings in place. The whole system is then expected to clear the North Island later this evening.

A different system is also expected to bring active showers and possible thunderstorms to Taranaki from late evening.

Severe Thunderstorm Outlook map issued at: 2:52pm Thursday 6 Dec 2012

Severe Thunderstorm Outlook map valid to Midnight Thursday 6 Dec 2012, issued at: 2:52pm Thursday 6 Dec 2012
Severe Thunderstorm Outlook map valid to Midnight Thursday 6 Dec 2012, issued at: 2:52pm Thursday 6 Dec 2012

We will update this blog again before 5pm. Further updates will then be available through Watches and Warnings, as well as on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Where to find the latest information from MetService:

Latest Severe Thunderstorm Warnings here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-thunderstorm-warnings

Rain radar here: http://metservice.com/national/maps-rain-radar/rain-radar/all-new-zealand

Latest Severe Thunderstorm Watches here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-thunderstorm-watch

Latest Severe Thunderstorm Outlook here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-thunderstorm-outlook

Latest Severe Weather Warnings here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-weather-warnings

Latest Severe Weather Watches here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-weather-watch

Latest Severe Weather Outlook here: http://metservice.com/national/warnings/severe-weather-outlook

Check our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/MetService

Follow @MetService on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MetService

The science behind the new Auckland forecasts

We’ve added a lot more detail to the forecasts for Auckland on metservice.com.

In addition to the existing Auckland forecast on the Towns & Cities page, we’ve divided the greater Auckland region into five sub-regions – each with its own characteristic  rainfall, temperature and wind patterns:

To provide hourly predictions of air temperature, wind speed and rainfall for these sub-regions, we’re using

  • Data from our own localised-for-New-Zealand weather modelling and statistical processing systems (for more about this, see the blog on MetService’s Investment in Forecasting)
  • Observations of temperature and wind speed from representative weather stations within each of the sub-regions (see next point), which we’re blending with  the modelled data for the first few hours of the forecast.
  • The weather stations we’re using are Whangaparaoa (for North Shore), Whenuapai (for Waitakere), Auckland Airport (for Manukau), and Ardmore (for Hunua). For Auckland City we’ve created a “virtual weather station” near the Newton Interchange; this will do the job for now, but we want to replace it with a real station within Auckland City soon.

 Auckland Central forecast page screenshot

The index map at the bottom left of the map area links back to the Auckland Towns & Cities page you’re already familiar with, containing the overall Auckland urban forecast and max/min temperatures for the next 10 days.

This initiative was partly motivated by the great feedback we received about the ‘dust graphs’ of wind speed and rainfall added to the Christchurch pages in February, to alert people to the potential dust nuisance in the areas affected by liquefaction and, more recently, demolition of large buildings.

As always, we’re looking forward to hearing what you think! Tweet @MetService or drop us an email at enquiries@metservice.com

Big Day Out – A Day of Two Parts

On Friday, Mount Smart stadium in Auckland’s Onehunga becomes once again the site for the Big Day Out – a whole day devoted to music and dancing.

MetService hopes that all involved in this year’s bash have fun, and as I look at the MetService data for the day I can see that the weather is likely to come in two parts.

Part One should be sunny and dry — as seen in the rain map below taken from the MetService site here showing the scene at 10 am as proceedings start.   A cold front is expected to wander over the Auckland area overnight and you can see the remains of it over Northland.  Since the winds following the front are forecast to come in from the southeast, this is likely to be a sunny dry clearance.  So during the early afternoon full sunshine can be expected and the air temperature is likely to rise to 24C.  If you are in the full sun it will feel 6 degrees warmer than that, so just add water to keep your cool.

10am Friday 15 January 2010

Twelve hours later, by 10 pm, weather conditions will have noticeably changed, as shown in the map below.   That cold front mentioned before is expected to stall in the area east of northern New Zealand and that will allow a family of small weak low pressure centres to form on the weather map.  Winds go clockwise around lows,  so the wind direction over Auckland is likely to switch and come from the southwest late in the day. The onshore wind and falling pressure will help to make the atmosphere more unstable, and set the scene for showers to form, especially around western parts of Auckland.   Temperatures are likely to drop to around 18C and the humidity is likely to noticeably increase.  The mosh pit may become moshier.

10pm Friday 15 January 2010

These weather maps get updated often so click here for the latest.

Bob McDavitt