Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, December 16, 2005

So hot right now

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As Hadyn points out, it's been unseasonably warm in Wellington these last few days. Unseasonably? Well, technically it is supposed to be summer, but while I haven't checked the climatological records, anecdotally it's generally assumed that Wellington doesn't get hot, still days until after Christmas. Normally, Cook Strait forces the wind direction to be either northerly or southerly, depending upon whether pressures are higher on the north or south side of the Strait. But we've been lucky to get stuck in a light northeasterly flow, which means that the wind gets confused and doesn't know which way to go. Yes, that's the official meteorological explanation: "the wind gets confused".

So how hot is hot? Official temperatures have been peaking in the mid-20s each day, which doesn't sound that hot. But remember that these are taken at the airport, which is close to the moderating influence of the sea and is exposed to winds from all directions. Temperatures in sheltered places can easily be 5 degrees higher, which explains why Upper Hutt and Wainuiomata have been getting into the 30s (they have to have some redeeming feature). But any sheltered spot will be the same, and the city is full of little spots and sun traps (Civic Square is a good example) that will also feel baking hot. The city also creates an "urban heat island" due to all that concrete and asphalt. Add in the high humidity and unusual calmness, and we breeze-accustomed Wellingtonians start to melt.

Meteogram for WellingtonTo see how warm it is right now, you could look at the hourly reports from the airport. Here are the last 24 hours in tabular and graphical form (remember that the times are given in UTC, so you have to add 13 hours: 2200 is 11am) . The regional council also continually measures temperatures around the region, with some very nice graphs, though their city station at the corner of Victoria and Vivian seems not have had any readings since 9 this morning. To look further afield, MetVUW has a map of temperature and humidity around the country, though bear in mind that these are based on three-hourly reports. Of course, you should get the Wellington forecast and observations from the horse's mouth at metservice.com, and watch the radar to keep an eye on any rogue showers or thunderstorms that might pop up on the hills and drift towards the city.

Remember to use the proper precautions in this weather: slip, slop and slurp. The current mystery bar is sounding pretty tempting right now (no, Sifter, it's not the Tasting Room), as is a Berry Mule outside Establishment, though remember to wave to the camera if you're there this afternoon, and hope that your boss isn't watching.


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