Climate Summary for March 2015

A warm month for all regions, and patches of wet and dry throughout New Zealand.

Temperature

March temperatures were above average (+0.51 °C to +1.20 °C) for most of the country, and numerous sites in all regions except for Otago and Southland experienced well above average (> +1.20 °C) March temperatures. Temperatures were near average (within 0.50 °C of average) for western Waikato, inland and southern Canterbury, coastal Otago, and eastern Southland.

Rainfall

 

Rainfall was near normal (80-120%) in most parts of the country. However, there were patches of unusually wet and unusually dry areas in both Islands. Rainfall was well above normal (> 149%) in the north-western South Island and Napier. Rainfall was well below normal (< 50%) for localised sites in Northland, coastal northern Canterbury, Milford Sound, and the Queenstown Lakes District. Rainfall was below normal (50-79%) in parts of these regions as well as in Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Soil Moisture

As of 1 April 2015, soil moisture levels were well below normal for the time of year for most of the North Island, particularly for western Northland, Waikato, eastern Bay of Plenty, southern Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa, as well as in the South Island for coastal northern Canterbury and parts of Southland.

Sunshine

It was a relatively cloudy month for much of the country, with many areas recording below normal sunshine (75-90%) - including parts of Northland, Waikato, Christchurch, and Otago. In most other areas, sunshine was near normal (within 10% of normal), except Dunedin, Taranaki, and western Waikato where it was sunnier than usual (110-125%).

Overview

March 2015 was characterised by lower air pressures than normal over New Zealand, the Tasman Sea, and south of Australia. Higher than normal pressures were located south-east of New Zealand. This pressure pattern caused a north-easterly flow anomaly over the country. As a result of frequent airflow from the tropics over New Zealand, it was a warm month for many regions, with numerous sites in all regions except for Otago and Southland recording well above average temperatures (more than 1.20 °C above March average). In Otago and Southland, above average temperatures were recorded (+0.50°C to +1.20°C above March average). The nation-wide average temperature in March 2015 was 16.7°C (1.0°C above the 1981-2010 March average from NIWA’s seven station temperature series which begins in 1909)[1].

Most of the country received near normal rainfall (within 20% of normal) in March. However, there were pockets with high rainfall, with parts of Buller and Westland and Napier receiving over one-and-a-half times the normal March rainfall (> 150%). There were patches of low rainfall totals in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, northern Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, which received below normal rainfall (50-79%). Localised sites in Canterbury, Otago, Northland, as well as Milford Sound received well below normal rainfall (< 50%).

Although parts of the country received significant rainfall, soils were still much drier than normal for the time of year in many areas. Specifically, as of 1 April 2015, soil moisture levels were well below normal for the time of year for most of the North Island, particularly for western Northland, Waikato, eastern Bay of Plenty, southern Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa, as well as in the South Island including coastal northern Canterbury and parts of Southland. Soil moisture levels were near normal for the time of year on the west coast of the South Island and eastern Otago, as well as pockets in Auckland, coastal Taranaki, north-eastern Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, and Canterbury.

It was a relatively cloudy month for most of the country, with many areas recording below normal sunshine (75-90%) - including parts of Northland, Waikato, Christchurch, and Otago. In most other areas, sunshine was near normal (within 10% of normal), except Dunedin, Taranaki, and western Waikato where it was sunnier than usual (110-125%).

Further Highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 32.1°C, observed at Hanmer Forest on 5 March.
  • The lowest temperature was -2.4°C, observed at Pukaki on 19 March.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall was 111 mm, recorded at Westport on 5 March.
  • The highest wind gust was 145 km/hr, observed at Hicks Bay on 16 March.
  • Of the six main centres in March 2015, Auckland was the warmest and wettest, Dunedin was the coolest, Christchurch was the driest, and Tauranga was the sunniest.
  • Of the available, regularly reporting sunshine observation sites, the sunniest four centres so far in 2015 (1 January to 31 March) are: New Plymouth (870 hours), Paraparaumu (815 hours), Whakatane (811 hours), and Blenheim (805 hours).

Download the full report:

Monthly Climate Summary - March 2015 [507.12 KB]

Climate statistics table:

Climate statistics for March 2015 [63Kb PDF]

For further information, please contact:

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