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Asia Minute: New Zealand’s Summer Heat Shatters Records


The National Weather Service says a cool air mass is lingering over the islands—keeping temperatures a bit lower than usual in Hawai‘i. It’s a very different story in New Zealand—where seasonal temperatures are setting new highs. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

While much of the mainland U.S. shivers through the last few weeks of winter, in the southern hemisphere it’s the closing weeks of summer.

And for New Zealand, it’s shaping up to be the hottest summer on record. At least since the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research began tracking those figures in 1909.

The temperatures will still seem chilly to those used to local weather. The overall average so far is just below 66 degrees Fahrenheit; while the monthly record in January was about 69 degrees for a national average. The hottest day of the summer in any location in the country was about five weeks ago—and was the hottest January day anywhere in New Zealand in 39 years.

That’s when the mercury hit nearly 102 degrees in Alexandra — a town of about 5,000 on New Zealand’s South Island –  home to the world’s southernmost vineyard.

Government weather watchers say the surrounding oceans are also warmer than usual, about 10 degrees Fahrenheit over their long-term seasonal average.

Credit Phillip Capper / Flickr
Scorching Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, 1 Jan. 2010

Radio New Zealand spoke with the government’s principal forecasting scientist who is not surprised—and expects the trend to continue.

Chris Brandolino said “It doesn’t mean every single day...season…week or month will be record-breaking and warm…but the expectation as we work through coming decades, if we’re on the same trajectory with carbon emissions, this will continue.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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