Phew — it's been a year of records for Northland weather wise as parts of the region recorded their highest temperatures and rainfall figures since records began.
Niwa's annual climate summary for 2020 shows Whangārei, Kerikeri, and Kaitaia broke the highest extreme maximum temps while the former two recorded the top extreme one-day rain since the 1940s and 50s.
The mercury hit 34.1C in Whangārei, 33.2C in Kerikeri, and 30.7C in Kaitaia on February 4 whereas Cape Reinga with 16C had its highest ever extreme of high daily maximum temperature.
From late December 2019 through until February 2020, several locations observed record or near record dry spells (defined as consecutive days with less than 1mm of rain) across New Zealand.
Whangārei went 38 consecutive days from January 15 without rain - its second longest dry run on record.
Last year was the seventh warmest year on record for New Zealand since records began in 1909.
The hottest spell of the year took hold over New Zealand from late January when several locations observed their highest daily maximum and daily minimum temperatures on record.
The highest temperature in New Zealand last year was recorded on January 31 at Gisborne where the mercury reached 38.2C.
Niwa climate scientist Gregor Macara said an uncommon aspect of Northland's weather was just how high the mercury got to, followed by the July rain to the extent the region's infrastructure struggled to cope with.
"It was quite interesting for Whangārei because it got to a record 34.1 degrees on February 4 and a day before, it got to 32.8C which was also a record. The long dry spell contributed to increased temperatures," he said.
"It was a very eventful year for Northland but not quite what people wanted, from being drier than normal to flash flooding."
Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said water - or lack of it - was a real issue and although there was a high rainfall event in July, most of what fell ran off.
Niwa said extreme one-day rain in July of 262mm in Kaikohe, 251mm in Whangārei, and 175mm in Kerikeri were the highest in these areas since records began in the 1940s and 50s.
Kaitaia's total rainfall for the year of 983mm was the fourth lowest since 1948 while 830mm fell in Dargaville which was the third highest.
"Because it was so dry, farmers used a record amount of grass feed, especially in the hill country. We've had a wet November so had plenty of silage and hay which was good.
"December has been very dry. Parts of central Northland had good rain but the east and west coast is getting tinder dry," Blackwell said.
Northland is so dry that there is a total fire ban across the whole region.
Northland mayoral forum chairman and Kaipara mayor Jason Smith said the real problem during long dry spells was a lack of ground water right across the region.
The flooding in Whangārei in July was very localised so the impact on groundwater in parts of Northland was limited. We've had a very dry spring which meant farmers were able to get their crops in the ground early but dry weather has had an impact.
"It certainly felt warmer and drier and the trend that's emerging is of warmer and probably drier weather with rain events. From a council perspective, people need to be better prepared for long, dry spells, in terms of water storage," he said.
Temperatures across much of the North Island, and parts of every region in the South Island, were +0.51C to +1.20C above annual average.
Tornadoes and water spouts were other notable inclement weather events in Northland last year.
Three separate small tornadoes were reported in Northland in June that resulted in six boats being blown off their cradles in Whangārei, tress toppled and iron from a farm shed strewn among nearby trees in Mata, just south of Whangārei.
A launch was blown off its blocks and a house lost half of its roof in another tornado, this time in Pukenui in August.
Rainfall was near normal or 80 to 119 per cent of normal for the eastern parts of Northland, severe meteorological drought was in place across the region by the end of February, and drier than normal soils were present for northern parts of the North Island by the end of spring.
Drought receded significantly during March, but remained in place at the end of the month across parts of Northland, Auckland, and far northern Waikato.
Leigh, north of Auckland, recorded the highest annual average temperature for 2020 of 16.9C, followed by 16.6C in Whangārei and Kaitaia.
At 16C, Cape Reinga had its extreme high daily minimum temperature on record while Kerikeri recorded the highest mean air temp of 16C and Whangārei of 16.6C.
The mean maximum temperature in Whangārei of 21.6C was the highest since records began in 1967, Kerikeri recorded 21.1C which was the third highest since 1945.
Northland's 2020 weather at a glance:
* Wettest July day on record in Whangārei, Kerikeri, Kaitaia
* Whangārei went 38 consecutive days from January 15 without rain — the second longest on record.
* Highest mean air temperature in Kerikeri and Whangārei
* Fourth lowest rainfall in Kaitaia since 1948 and third highest in Dargaville since 1943.