Could today's warm winter solstice be a record breaker?

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Today's winter solstice could become the warmest on record, as weather forecasters predict warmer than usual temperatures. Photo/file
Today's winter solstice could become the warmest on record, as weather forecasters predict warmer than usual temperatures. Photo/file

Weather watchers are anticipating potentially record-breaking temperatures to coincide with the shortest day of the year today.

National Institute of Water and Atmosphere meteorologist Ben Noll said daily temperature records would face a challenge tomorrow, with many places likely to record highs more typical of mid-April than late June.

Tauranga is expected to join other centres in breaking its record with a maximum temperature of 18C forecast today and a low of 15C overnight.

Auckland and Hamilton could break their record of 17.8C, while New Plymouth was set to beat its 16.4C high and Nelson was poised to top its record high for June 21 of 15.5C.

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

It comes as the Winter Solstice is scheduled to occur at 10.34am today, when the sun's position in the sky reaches its farthest point north of the Equator. It means today will have the least amount of daylight of any day for the year.

In Auckland, this equates to just nine hours, 37 minutes and 58 seconds, and in Invercargill, just eight hours, 35 minutes and 5 seconds worth of daylight. But this didn't mean the latest sunrise or the earliest sunset - the period of the earliest sunset occurred in Auckland between June 6 and 19, whereas the latest sunrise occurred between June 26 and July 2.

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

Many Northern Hemisphere countries considered the Summer Solstice the official start of summer, but that didn't mean the Winter Solstice marked the official start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, winter began on June 1 and ended on August 31, otherwise known as "the meteorological winter", combining the months with the most similar weather together.After tomorrow, daylight would begin to increase.

Most cities in New Zealand would 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, increased to nearly 38 minutes in Auckland, about 45 minutes in Wellington, and 54 minutes in Invercargill.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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