Annual Climate Summary 2014

Near normal rainfall and near average temperatures for most of the country.

Rainfall 

Annual rainfall was near normal for most parts of New Zealand in 2014.  The exception was parts of the central North Island and Central Otago where rainfall was below normal, and isolated parts of Northland near Kaikohe where above normal rainfall was recorded. In addition, well above normal rainfall occurred near the far south-west of the South Island. 

Temperatures

Annual temperatures were near average across much of the country.  However, above average annual temperatures were recorded in isolated locations in the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Westland and Central Otago.  Notably, New Zealand observed its equal-warmest June on record (based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909).

Soil moisture

From late-summer through to mid-autumn soil moisture levels were lower than normal in many parts of New Zealand, including western areas of Northland and Auckland, central and western Waikato, eastern Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui, Tasman and the upper West Coast.  At the end of the year soil moisture levels were below or well below normal across Waikato, lower Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, and along and east of the Divide in the South Island. Above normal soil moisture levels were evident over parts of the upper West Coast of the South Island, northern Gisborne, coastal Bay of Plenty, much of the Coromandel Peninsula and central and eastern areas of Northland.

Sunshine

2014 was sunnier than normal for parts of the Coromandel Peninsula, eastern Bay of Plenty, East Cape, northern Taranaki, southern Hawke’s Bay and north Canterbury.  Annual sunshine totals were near normal elsewhere.

Overview

Annual mean sea level pressures for 2014 were slightly lower than usual over and south of New Zealand, with a very weak south-westerly airflow anomaly over the country.  The two most extreme months in 2014 in terms of the 7-station temperature series were January (much colder than average) and June (the warmest June on record).  Both temperature extremes were associated with fairly extreme circulation anomalies.  The cold January 2014 (1.0°C below the January average[1]) was the ‘most southerly’[2] January since 2001, and the 11th most southerly on record (since 1896).  The record warm June (1.6°C above the June average) was the ‘most northerly’1 June since 2003, and the 8th most northerly June on record (since 1896).  Slow-moving anticyclones dominated from mid-August through to the first half of September, resulting in a prolonged dry spell throughout the South Island, southern Taranaki and Whanganui.  El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions prevailed for much of the year, although ENSO-positive conditions (indicating a developing El Niño event) were established towards the end of the year.  Sea-surface temperatures around New Zealand were generally higher than normal throughout the year.

Annual rainfall totals for 2014 were near normal (within 20% of the annual normal) for the majority of the country.  However, annual rainfall was below normal (50-79% of the annual normal) for parts of the central North Island and Central Otago.  It was the second-driest year on record for Turangi and Dannevirke, with these locations recording just 69% and 72% of the normal annual rainfall respectively.  In contrast, above normal rainfall (120-149% of normal) was recorded in isolated parts of Northland near Kaikohe, and well above normal rainfall (> 149% of normal) occurred near the far south-west of the South Island.

Annual mean temperatures for 2014 were near average (within 0.50°C of the annual average) for most parts of New Zealand.  Above average annual mean temperatures (0.51-1.20°C above the annual average) were recorded in isolated locations throughout New Zealand including Te Puke, Gisborne, Stratford, Masterton, Reefton and parts of Central Otago.  It was an especially warm June (1.6°C above the June average; equal-warmest June on record) and April (1.2°C above the April average), and an especially cold January (1.0°C below the January average), but temperature anomalies were typically near normal for remaining months of the year.  The nation-wide average temperature for 2014 was 12.8°C (0.2°C above the 1981–2010 annual average), using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909. 

Below normal to well below normal soil moisture levels affected many parts of New Zealand from late-summer through until mid-autumn, although overall the dry conditions were not as severe as those observed during the drought of 2013.  At the end of the year, soil moisture levels were below normal for the time of year across Waikato, lower Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, and along and east of the Divide in the South Island, and the threat of drought was especially prevalent in Canterbury.  Above normal soil moisture levels were evident over parts of the upper West Coast of the South Island, northern Gisborne, coastal Bay of Plenty, much of the Coromandel Peninsula and central and eastern areas of Northland.

Annual sunshine hours were typically near normal (within 10% of annual normal) for most parts of the country.  It was a particularly sunny year for parts of the Coromandel Peninsula, eastern Bay of Plenty, East Cape, northern Taranaki, southern Hawke’s Bay and north Canterbury where above normal (110-125% of normal) annual sunshine hours were recorded.

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[1] Note all temperature, rainfall and sunshine anomalies reported in this document are relative to the 1981-2010 average/normal.

[2] Based on the Trenberth “M1 Index” derived from the Hobart minus Chatham Island pressure difference.

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Mr Chris Brandolino
NIWA Forecaster – NIWA National Climate Centre
Tel. 09 375 6335, Mobile (027) 886 0014

For climate data, please contact:

Mr Gregor Macara
Climate Scientist, NIWA Wellington
Tel. 04 386 0509

 

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