A summary of the equinox
I started tramping as a teenager with the expectation of rain in the hills about two days out of three. So we were always prepared to change plans if confronted by a river in flood. Likewise, conditions on the tops could send us scurrying back below the bush line, as the wind over the ridge crests was sometimes strong enough to throw an adult carrying a heavy pack off their feet.
Earlier in the September 2009 many parts of New Zealand had frosts. This is the beginning of spring so it got me thinking about the impact that late season frosts can have on the delicate buds sprouting on trees and vines around the country.
Our weather in New Zealand is greatly modified by the shape of the land. There are many parts of the country where the air is channelled through gaps in the terrain, and I thought I would write a little about this. Especially since it relates to the thread of my earlier posts on wind.
On 21 August in 1861, Dr. Charles Knight was appointed the first Director of Meteorological Stations in New Zealand.
His appointment marked the founding of the New Zealand Meteorological Service – this country’s oldest continuous scientific institution. Early missionaries and settlers quickly realised our coasts were subject to rapid changes of weather, with frequent violent storms. In the 1840s and 1850s weather studies were made by military officers, but in 1859 the government put weather stations on a more formal footing.
One of the pleasures of reading history is coming across stories about the weather. Thunderstorms often figure in these. One of the most dramatic examples was recorded in the sixth century AD, by Gregory, Bishop of Tours, in his Historia Francorum (The History of the Franks).
In my blog post about winds aloft there is a loop of satellite images for a week in winter 2008. It shows that the big cloud features in the mid-latitudes typically travel from west to east. In other words, the features you see on weather maps affecting New Zealand have usually started out roughly in the area of southern Australia.
Written By Jonathon Tunster, Meteorologist
On the night of 17th July 2009 and early on the 18th, New Zealand was affected by a fast-moving and rapidly deepening depression originating in the north Tasman Sea. Sustained southwesterly winds of more than 60 knots were recorded in Colville Channel as the low passed by. Severe Weather Warnings were issued for wind in Coromandel/Great Barrier Island and rain in the eastern North Island.
Part of my job as a teacher of meteorology is to go to NZ universities looking for future meteorologists. It breaks my heart when, sometimes I meet a person with a genuine passion for the weather who would love to work for us as a meteorologist, but just can't cope with the required maths. Unfortunately for them, professional meteorologists need to have some university maths under their belts. And this requirement isn't just a local thing - it also comes from the World Meteorological Organisation of which we are a member nation.