Sizzling temperatures on the West Coast -- unofficially reaching 43C in inland areas -- have people questioning the accuracy of the cool and wet El Nino forecasts.
Officially, the mercury peaked at 23.3C in Greymouth yesterday, however, Rotomanu farmer and Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne -- speaking to the Greymouth Star as she was cooling off in Lake Brunner -- said temperatures of up to 43C had been reported in "hot pockets" in the area.
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"I believe the temperature was that high as I remember as a teenager working around the Arnold Power Station, where there was an official temperature gauge, and seeing it hit 43, so I wouldn't dispute that being reached again yesterday," Miss Milne said.
The thermometer at her farm yesterday showed 34C in the breeze.
"We have even pushed back our milking time as the cows, with the big machines, don't like it too hot."
Reefton recorded 30C yesterday and was close to 31C at midday today, while Hokitika and Westport both shared 23.7C yesterday.
The heat and the appearance in the past fortnight of hordes of cicadas has West Coasters seriously questioning the dire forecasts of an El Nino weather pattern.
Miss Milne said the cicadas, regarded as a sign of a hot summer, were out in force and "driving her mad".
"It is an odd El Nino we are having, although the rain over the past two weeks, which trickled away and was not the 400mm forecast, has kept the lakes and rivers reasonably full."
Niwa principal scientist forecasting Chris Brandolino said today that until New Year's Day the El Nino was "trucking along as we had expected".
"When New Year arrived in the South Island, so did unusual south-easterly winds to the West Coast, which brought with them warm, dry weather."
He said the El Nino was still a "possibility", although the forecast for the remainder of the summer and into autumn was for near-normal rainfall.
Oddly, the heat is not driving people to the pools to cool off.
Grey District Aquatic Centre manager Bruce Russell said the hot weather was "our biggest competition".
"Instead of coming to the pool many people go to the beaches, rivers and lakes. We actually prefer it when it is wet," Mr Russell said.
Westpower could not confirm today whether or not there was a spike in power usage around the Coast yesterday as people turned up their air conditioners.