Hawke's Bay hottest spot in NZ

By Doug Laing

Fire authorities are tentatively congratulating the Hawke's Bay public for preventing any significant fires during some of the region's hottest weather in a decade.

The hat-doffing came last night as temperatures in much of the area remained above 30C after 6pm, on a day on which the MetService provisionally had Hastings posting the highest temperature of the day, at 34.5C, although TV reported it as 35.

A Wairoa website, however, reported a peak at the town's weather station of 35.2C.

The high point came about after 4.30pm, was more than a degree above what had been the forecast maximum, and was starting to nudge the highest temperature recorded in Hastings, 35.5C during a nationwide swelter in 1973.

About the same time the thermometer peaked in Hastings, the MetService temperature for Napier was 32.9C, and Hawke's Bay Airport was recording 33.1C.

Similar temperatures were being recorded in Waipukurau, one site recording the maximum as 33C.

The Hastings peak, just after 4.30pm, was more than a degree warmer than forecast by the MetService, and a degree short of the city's January record, the sweltering 35.5C posted 40 years ago.

The only fire of concern to authorities throughout the Bay yesterday was a beach incident at Pourerere, but it was quickly extinguished.

A significant problem was emerging on the roads as sealing melted, and west of Napier and Hastings a sheep truck and trailer carrying about 550 lambs became stranded in the middle of the road while climbing a hill in the Rissington Cutting on Puketitiri Rd.

The driver was concerned the vehicle, headed for the meatworks, would severely damage the surface, but as another vehicle was on its way to help, traction was regained and the truck was able to continue.

About 10km away, a turning truck had severely gouged the road surface, highlighting the impact of the high temperatures in a zone known to be among the hottest when Hawke's Bay gets hot.

Hastings District Council rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell said last night authorities were "very pleased" with the public heeding fire warnings, and refraining from lighting rubbish fires or other burns during the heatwave.

Recent seasons' weather had meant it had not been as dry as some past seasons on the East Coast of the North Island, but he warned: "We're only in January!"

Fire Service senior station officer Darren Clark, of Hastings, said that conditions "are obviously in the extreme".

But, in the context of daily fire calls in the region "it's been very quiet (for any time of the year) - let alone it being at the height of summer".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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