Warm Winter Solstice tomorrow

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Potentially record-breaking temperatures are likely across New Zealand tomorrow, coinciding with the shortest day of the year.

The Winter Solstice occurs at 10.34am when the sun’s position in the sky reaches its farthest point north of the Equator.

That means tomorrow has the least amount of daylight of any day for the year – in Auckland that equates to 9 hours, 37 minutes and 58 seconds. But in Invercargill it is even shorter with just 8 hours, 35 minutes, and 5 seconds worth of daylight.

But it doesn’t mean the latest sunrise or the earliest sunset. The period of the earliest sunset occurred in Auckland between June 6th and 19th whereas the latest sunrise occurs between June 26th and July 2nd.

Amount of daylight on New Zealand's winter solstice: 21 June 2016

During the Winter Solstice there is no sunlight at all south of the Antarctic Circle; conversely, it is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is visible throughout areas just south of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole through the entire day and night.

Many Northern Hemisphere countries consider the Summer Solstice the official start of summer. But that doesn’t mean the Winter Solstice marks the official start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, winter begins on June 1 and ends on August 31, otherwise known as “the meteorological winter” combining the months with the most similar weather together.

Daylight to increase

After tomorrow, daylight begins to increase. Most cities in New Zealand will have two or three minutes’ more daylight by the end of the month. By the end of July the additional daylight when compared to the Winter Solstice increases to nearly 38 minutes in Auckland, about 45 minutes in Wellington, and 54 minutes in Invercargill.

Record high temperatures

Meanwhile, daily temperature records face a challenge tomorrow, with many places likely to record highs more typical of mid-April than late June. Auckland and Hamilton will challenge their record of 17.8°C and New Plymouth may beat its record of 16.4°C. Nelson may top its record high for June 21st of 15.5°C, along with a few places in mid and North Canterbury.

It will be even warmer on Wednesday in the east of the South Island as Invercargill (record 14.4°C), Dunedin (record 17.4°C), and Christchurch (record 18.2°C) are forecast to close in on daily record maximum temperatures.

Contact

Ben Noll
NIWA meteorologist
ph. 09-375-6334