New Zealand experiences warmest winter on record

New Zealand experiences its warmest winter on record as Antarctic winds stay away

Associated Press
New Zealand experiences warmest winter on record
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In this Aug. 30, 2013 photo, visitors ride a Skyline gondola in a bright sunny winter day at Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, in the South Island of New Zealand. Scientists said Tuesday Sept. 3, 2013, the South Pacific nation had its warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago.(AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) AUSTRALIA OUT, NEW ZEALAND OUT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Winter lacked its usual Antarctic chill in New Zealand this year — to record effect.

Scientists said Tuesday the South Pacific nation had its warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago.

The average nationwide temperature was 9.5 Celsius (49.1 Fahrenheit) for June, July and August. That's about 1.2 Celsius above average and 0.3 Celsius above the previous record set in 1984, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said. Record-keeping began in 1909.

The winter had a pattern of warmer winds from the north but fewer southerly winds, which typically bring cold air from Antarctica, NIWA climate scientist Brett Mullan said. He said he believes that global weather remains variable but is in a warming pattern.

He said the weather was a boon for farmers who were recovering from a summer drought. The mild weather allowed grass to sprout in their fields, he said.

And skiers had no problem with the weather, either.

Annah Dowsett, a spokeswoman for the Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields on Mount Ruapehu, said dumps of snow early in the ski season followed by weeks of pleasant weather provided the perfect conditions. She said the fields hosted above-average numbers of skiers throughout winter and Turoa went for an unusually long stretch of 46 days without needing to close once for inclement weather.

"It's certainly been pleasant," she said. "August is usually windy and snowy and cold."

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