Weather Watch

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

WeatherWatch: Snow, hail, storms bring dramatic start to spring

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Hail falls on Princes St in Dunedin. Photo / Paul Allen
Hail falls on Princes St in Dunedin. Photo / Paul Allen

What a spring we've had so far! Golf ball-sized hail, dramatic thunderstorms, flash floods, frosts, hurricane-force winds, sunny weather, 23C below zero wind chills, snow, sleet - and a lot of pea-sized hail.

The storm last weekend and for the first half of the week was certainly a decent one cold-wise, but most of the severe features were fairly localised.

On Tuesday night hail was falling in Dunedin, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland all at the same time - that was a little unusual.

But there were a few features which never made it into the mainstream news. Snow pellets fell in Auckland, although they were restricted to the Waitakere Ranges.

"Icy slush softly landing on my car roof near Waiatarua at 4:30am this morning, 411m above sea level, from a band of weather that had a few hours earlier dumped snow at the same altitude in Taranaki," Geoff Blackmore emailed.

His photo certainly provided evidence of the brief snow fall.

We predicted in March that there were strong signs we had similar air pressure systems to last winter, which produced the Antarctic southerly that delivered snow to Auckland - and although the risk was only 30 per cent, there was a chance of more snow falling as far north as the Auckland region.

"So spending my life savings on printing 'I survived the Great Auckland Snowstorm 2012' T-shirts might not be stupid after all?" joked another reader, Craig Stephenson.

Although we predicted the cold snap eight days in advance, no forecaster predicted the low levels to which it fell in the North Island.

Snow fell in Stratford and Taranaki, and plenty of sleet and hail fell across the lower North Island - from Masterton to Wellington and over to Kapiti.

When MetService issued snow warnings, no doubt farmers in the middle of lambing were concerned - but thankfully the system was short-lived. The snow was short lived, too.

With a high moving in this week, it may be growers who are more concerned - frosts in September can be extremely costly for orchardists.

Believe it or not, 2012 has been a fairly kind year to farmers and growers - long may that continue as it's the backbone of our economy.

- Herald on Sunday

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