Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Forecasters blow hot and cold

Two experts didn't predict this summer's drought - but got closer than an astrologer.

Two professional weather forecasters got close to predicting the record hot, dry summer, but a "motivational astrologer" was adrift.

On the eve of summer, the Herald invited three forecasters - WeatherWatch's Philip Duncan, Niwa climate scientist Georgina Griffiths, and motivational astrologer Gigi Sosnoski - to say what they thought was in store for the next three months.

After a cloudy 2011/12 summer, Mr Duncan said this year would be better, and believed dry, hot spells would be "balanced by some rain".

Given that vast swathes of the country have been left parched, and the entire North Island now declared a drought zone, he admits he was off the mark slightly.

"I'm kicking myself," he said.

But WeatherWatch wasn't alone in not forseeing just how dry the summer would be.

Ms Sosnoski was accurate in saying December would be a "dry, enjoyable time", but fell away by saying that Mars would be in Aquarius in January, which would bring more thunder and lightning than usual. She was also misguided about February, predicting it could be "extra wet".

The most accurate of the trio was Niwa's expert climatologist. Mrs Griffiths predicted a "normal to dry summer" for the north and east - with Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Waikato, Northland and Auckland all looking for "that dryish summer flavour".

"Aucklanders will be starting to conserve water in another month or two if it continues to be dry," she said.

Her only black mark was in saying Wellington through to Taranaki would have closer to normal rainfall for the summer period.

"I think we gave quite a good heads-up this year," she said yesterday.

Mr Duncan said it was impossible to accurately predict how an entire summer will unfold.


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