Weather Watch

Weather analyst Philip Duncan checks the forecast and the story behind the temperatures

WeatherWatch: Beautiful sunny days are payback for icy mornings

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Yes, it has been freezing cold this month.  Photo / Simon Baker
Yes, it has been freezing cold this month. Photo / Simon Baker

Our weather has been dominated by "f" words lately - flash floods, fog, frosts and fine weather. But frosts have dominated this week, thanks to a nice big high pressure system.

Overnight lows around New Zealand reached their standard low points. Auckland has had several frosts this year, a number of them heavy. Not the biggest headline in the world but certainly not something that happens every winter. Some years, the city records no frosts.

South Islanders have true bragging rights though: minus 6s, 7s and 8s have been common across Southland and Otago over recent weeks. Middlemarch dropped to -11C in the first week of this month.

Frosty weather is generally welcomed by most New Zealanders, as it usually spells a day with light winds and blue skies.

While we think of the worst frosts as being in the deep south, the Waikato and Rotorua regions, low-lying areas where the cold air can't escape, also have huge frosts.

"We don't have water until near lunchtime as the pipes are frozen," Carolyn London told on Monday. "We are at Waikite Valley, South Rotorua.

London said the sub-zero temperatures put a halt to things most of us take for granted. "No morning shower, can't do washing or flush toilet. Jug has to be full before bed or no breakfast."

And while Auckland's temperatures aren't as low, even the lightest of frosts can cause significant damage to plants.

Aucklander Claire Masters said the frosts so far hadn't been too brutal. "General shrubs we work with are just fine - still hasn't even put off the Hawaiian hibiscus which hate cold weather. They still don't seem to have the memo that it's winter already as they are still in full flower ... some less-hardy palms have bleached leaves."

Of course the fact that Auckland has hibiscus plants still flowering, and some trees with their autumn leaves on, shows just how mild the city really is compared to the rest of New Zealand. And to all the people who laugh at Aucklanders' reactions to frosts: keep in mind it's more about their rareness than their intensity.

After all, many Aucklanders were born in the South Island or rural North Island and know what cold feels like.

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