Editor’s Note: Weather Report
Most of us are glad to leave the cold of winter behind, and bask in the added warmth of spring and summer.
Granted there are still a few cold, wet days ahead of us, yet often just the thought of hotter temperatures will lighten a mood and bring a smile as we plan upcoming outdoor activities.
The last few years have seen some dramatic natural and climate-associated weather disasters in New Zealand and abroad.
Wild fires, flooding, and cyclones have all wrecked havoc far and wide, and it’s not over yet.
El Niño is officially here, and with it comes a change from the La Niña weather patterns New Zealand has experienced for the past three years.
When La Niña finally gave up the ghost in March this year, global sea surface temperatures were suddenly the highest on record as the tropical Pacific abruptly began to warm.
Record high sea surface temperatures in the extratropical North and South Pacific were partly a signature from La Niña and partly a sign of climate change. The resulting “atmospheric rivers” delivered devastating torrential rains to New Zealand.
Our country tends to experience stronger and more frequent winds from the west in summer during El Niño, bringing with them dryness in eastern areas and more rain on the West Coast, with generally cooler conditions overall. El Niños tend to peak in December, although their biggest atmospheric impacts may not be until February.
The warmest surface temperature years are the latter stages of El Niño events, and while 2016 is the world’s warmest year on record, predictions are that 2023 could beat that record, and that 2024 will beat it by a lot.
Hot, sunny days are on the horizon, yet so too may be droughts and wild fires. Be prepared.