Author Topic: New Zealand Weather Summary for 1938  (Read 572 times)

Offline Sheldybett

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New Zealand Weather Summary for 1938
« on: May 21, 2019, 03:46:05 PM »
SUMMARY OF THE WEATHER FOR 1938.

January.—A very warm and humid month. Sunshine more than average. Though the rain was above average in most districts and very heavy in some areas, there were comparatively few wet days, and in the middle of the month there was almost a fortnight of brilliantly fine weather with little wind. Some very high temperatures were recorded. There was an abundance of pasture. Stock were in good condition, though lambs remained generally on the light side. The milk-yield was well maintained. The condition of the wheat crop improved, and most other crops were doing well. Between the 22nd and the 25th a cyclonic storm approaching from the west across the Cook Strait area was responsible for severe southerly gales which did some damage. General rain accompanied the storm and was heavy everywhere except in the southern part of the South Island. Severe flooding occurred in southern Hawke's Bay, where the falls in the low levels were unprecedented. A number of places recorded over 9 in. of rain in twenty-four hours.

February.—As regards both temperature and humidity, conditions resembled those of the Tropics. The rainfall also, especially in the North Island, was frequently tropical in its intensity and its erratic distribution. Considerable damage was done to roads in the North Island by heavy rain. Slips were numerous. Rainfall was much above average from Nelson and Marlborough northwards, two to three times the normal being experienced over large areas. Many very heavy falls in a single day were recorded. Dry weather persisted in most of Otago and Southland. In spite of the very humid conditions and lack of sunshine the month was the hottest February experienced in New Zealand, the mean temperature being about 5½° F. above normal. Stone-fruit suffered through the high humidity prevailing. There was abundant growth of pasture, and stock were doing well. Conditions were congenial for insects and fungous pests. A cyclone in the north caused easterly gales in the Auckland Province on the 4th. Heavy rain fell from Nelson and Marlborough northwards. The gale caused damage to fruit crops in northern districts. On several occasions, particularly from the 15th to the 19th, sudden heavy rains occurred at many places in the North Island. There was much flooding, particularly between Hawke's Bay and East Cape. The damage caused was very severe, and at a workmen's camp in the Wairoa district grave loss of life occurred.

March.—Again very warm, the mean temperature being, with one possible exception, the highest experienced for a March month since records commenced in New Zealand. Rainfall in general was much below average, but owing to the previous heavy falls, the continued high humidity, and the absence of wind the shortage was not felt. Drought continued in parts of Otago and Southland. Sunshine was above average in most places. Pasture was still abundant and stock and crops doing very well, except that lambs again failed to fatten satisfactorily. Harvesting and farm-work were carried out under good conditions. There was extremely little storm activity, high pressure and anticyclonic weather predominating.

April.—Extremely dull, wet, and warm, with very little wind. Much flooding was experienced, and that of the 24th to 25th in Hawke's Bay was a major disaster for that province. There were grave losses of stock, and damage to roads, bridges, and property. Rich pasture lands, particularly in the Esk Valley, were covered by deep deposits of silt. All previous April records for warmth were again exceeded. In the North Island and western districts of the South, mean temperatures exceeded the normal for April by 6° F. to 8° F. Elsewhere the departures averaged about 3° F. Sunshine was much below average. Dry conditions still prevailed in the far south. There was prolific growth of pasture, but it was very soft. Though stock generally were in good condition, the reverse was the case in much of the South Island. Lambs failed to fatten well. The completion of harvesting was delayed and farm-work interfered with. The conditions prevailing were responsible for serious outbreaks of facial eczema in sheep and cattle, especially in the Waikato and east coast districts of the North Island. As regards storm systems, the month was remarkable for the absence of westerly depressions. Anticyclones travelled in unusually high latitudes. Several cyclones moving from the north affected the Dominion and caused heavy rain. One of these, occurring just before Easter, was responsible for considerable flooding and the disorganization of traffic in the South Island. Another storm, moving down the east coast, gave rise to the phenomenal rains and floods of the 25th (Anzac Day). The total rain produced by the storm amounted in places to over 40 in.

May.—Another very warm month, but extremely dry. There was very little wind and though frosts were fairly frequent no day was very cold. On not more than two occasions previously had the mean temperature in May been so high. There was little snow on the mountains. Pasture was still abundant and had hardened up considerably, especially in the South Island. There were further outbreaks of facial eczema in the North Island, otherwise stock were doing well. A cyclonic storm in the north caused further flooding in the Auckland and Hawke's Bay Provinces on the 4th and 5th. Anticyclonic conditions prevailed, however, during most of the month, and in the South Island particularly, conditions were very quiet.

June.—Though the temperature was about the average, there was a big fall from the previous month, and all forms of life appeared to feel the change rather severely. Rainfall was about normal. A considerable amount of snow fell on the ranges. Sunshine was slightly below average. Abundance of feed was still available for stock, which, with the exception of young sheep, were in good condition. The ground was soft, making farm-work difficult. A number of low-pressure centres formed off the west coast during the month, causing stormy weather.

July.—Dull, wet, and cold. It was the frequency of the rain and the lack of sunshine as much as the amount of precipitation that kept things damp. In Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, it was the coldest July on record. Frosts were frequent and sometimes severe. The soil was saturated and farm-work held up. Stock were reported to be in fair to good condition. A deep depression crossed the Auckland Province between the 10th and 14th. On the 13th there was a very boisterous and widespread south-easterly gale which caused minor damage in many places. Snow fell on the Canterbury Plains and in Central Otago. A series of somewhat similar depressions followed. Flooding occurred in the Auckland and Hawke's Bay provincial districts on three occasions during the month and a considerable amount of snow fell.

August.—After the first ten days there was a spell of mild and sunny weather which brightened the outlook generally. At the end of the month dull and wet weather again set in. Rain was much above average over the northern half of the North Island and in western districts of the South. Elsewhere it was below, and from Canterbury southwards a very dry month was experienced. Mean temperatures were slightly above average everywhere. The dry areas of the South Island had more sunshine than usual, but elsewhere conditions were irregular. The state of stock and pastures varied considerably from district to district, but, on the whole, was less favourable than usual. Vegetation was showing signs of growth, but had not entirely recovered from the cold and wet weather of the preceding months, and the season was somewhat backward. At the beginning of the month two depressions of the type which had been so frequent earlier in the year crossed the North Island. These caused heavy rain over the North Island with snow on the high levels. There was some flooding again in Auckland and Hawke's Bay. Thereafter westerly weather prevailed. On the 10th a northerly gale in the central provinces caused much damage to telegraph and power lines, fences, &c.

September.—Dull, cold, and wet weather prevailed again during the first few days, but from the 10th onward, and especially after the 18th, there was a marked improvement. Temperatures became mild, the atmosphere was dry, and there was little rain in most districts. The total rain was, on the whole, below the average. Mean temperatures for the month were everywhere slightly above normal, and though there were several snowfalls, there was no severe cold. Sunshine was, on the whole, somewhat below average. For the farmer the month was generally a good one. The soil, which had in many places been water-logged, dried out. Chiefly due to difficulties earlier in the year, the percentage of lambs was considerably below that of the preceding two years. Southland and parts of Otago continued to experience dry weather. On the 2nd to the 3rd a very boisterous southerly gale blew in Cook Strait and on the east coast of the South Island. Unsettled and rather stormy conditions occurred at intervals until the 18th, but thereafter anticyclonic conditions prevailed and disturbances were of only slight intensity.

October.—Until about the 20th the weather was dry with a prevalence of strong westerly winds. Thereafter it was humid, and good rains fell, especially in the South Island. At the end of the month, however, there was still a considerable shortage of moisture in most districts, and the growth of pasture was distinctly backward. There were good rains in Canterbury and Otago which were very opportune, but elsewhere totals were below average. Mean temperatures were almost everywhere above normal and there were few frosts. Sunshine was generally much above average. Conditions were very favourable for stock, especially lambs, but the milk-yield was below normal. Apart from pastures, vegetation flourished, and the spring, though late, was a very active one. A depression passing between the 9th and 11th, was responsible for severe north-westerly gales, especially in Wellington and Canterbury. On the 11th there was snow on the hills of Banks Peninsula; otherwise there were no storms worthy of special note.

November.—November completed one of the best springs of recent years. Temperatures were warm, and there was enough rain to ensure vigorous growth of vegetation. The distribution of rainfall was rather irregular, but most districts had more than the average. Except on the Canterbury Plains, mean temperatures were considerably above normal and no extremes of heat or cold were experienced. Sunshine was below average except in the far south. In a few places growth was still rather backward owing to drying winds or previous lack of rainfall, but generally the country was looking particularly well and pasture was abundant. Numbers of native trees produced a remarkable amount of blossom. This was especially noticeable with the cabbage-tree and the beech. The beech forests have seldom displayed such a warmth and variety of colour. Stock were thriving, although some trouble was experienced with lambs, chiefly owing to parasites. The milk-yield was well up to standard. On the 8th and 9th there were some severe local downpours in Central Otago. One at Coal Creek, near Roxburgh, did serious damage to a number of orchards. In other cases large areas of pasture were destroyed. On the 21st there were boisterous south-westerly gales, and a heavy fall of snow occurred on the high levels in Otago and Southland.

December.—A most unseasonable month; cold and wet, with persistent strong winds in many places. Rainfall was much above average. The southern half of the South Island and areas in the centre of the North had the wettest December on record. Night temperatures were very low and there were numbers of frosts. Snow fell relatively frequently on the ranges. Sunshine was below average. Thunderstorms were unusually numerous. On two occasions remarkably persistent thunderstorms, lasting for hours and accompanied by continuous rain, occurred in the central provinces, especially on the west coast. A number of cloudbursts were again experienced in the South Island. The exceptionally frequent rains interfered with haymaking, while shearing and cultivation operations were much delayed, especially in the higher country. The growth of pasture was well maintained. Stock were in good condition, but lambs not fattening well. The cold and damp retarded the progress of crops and garden plants. Blights were rather prevalent. The storms experienced were mainly of the westerly type. Severe north-westerly or northerly gales occurred on the 8th and the 10th.

Year.—The outstanding feature of the year was the almost tropical conditions of warmth and humidity which prevailed from January to April inclusive. May, also, was very warm, but in contrast with the preceding months it was very dry. The only previous period experienced in New Zealand, since records began, comparable in warmth with the summer of 1937-38 and the autumn of 1938 was the summer of 1934-35. On the latter occasion the warm spell began earlier and was of shorter duration. Furthermore, drought prevailed for a large part of the time. From the end of the first week in June until the beginning of August in 1938 cold, wintry weather prevailed. In the southern part of the South Island the cold was severe, and eucalyptus-trees, for example, suffered much damage from frost. Elsewhere, though the departures from normal were not large, and in many cases were positive, coming after the continued warmth of the earlier months, the fall of temperature was felt very much. Growth of vegetation ceased almost entirely. From August until November mild weather predominated, and the spring, though rather belated, was an excellent one, especially in the South Island. There was abundance of pasture, and the flowering of trees and plants was unusually prolific. December was cold, wet, and windy.

The year was a very wet one. This was particularly the case from Hawke's Bay to East Cape, along the Auckland Coast from the Bay of Islands to the Bay of Plenty, and in northern Westland and south-west Nelson. The only considerable areas with less than average were in southern Westland and Southland. A protracted period of dry weather had set in over Southland in 1937, and it was not until October, 1938, that it was definitely ended.

The warmth and humidity of the first part of the year was responsible for a rank growth of pasture. With these conditions was associated the serious outbreak of facial eczema which occurred in the autumn. The milk-yield was well maintained until the incursion of the facial-eczema epidemic, when there was a sharp fall. In the spring there was a recovery. Lambs seldom fattened well. The percentage of lambs was much below that of the preceding two years. There have been no very serious losses of stock in recent winters through excessive snowfalls or combined cold and wet weather.

The wheat crop of the 1937-38 season gave a moderate yield, and that of the following season was doing fairly well at the end of the year. Owing to the wet weather, however, a smaller area had been sown. The 1938 apple crop was a very good one, but stone-fruit suffered from the effects of the damp weather. Most other small crops did well, though some trouble was experienced from fungous diseases, especially with potatoes and tomatoes.

The year was remarkable for the frequency of floods in the Auckland and especially the Hawke's Bay provincial districts. In the latter they were very severe and the damage was of disastrous proportions.

THE NEW ZEALAND OFFICIAL YEARBOOK, 1940.


Sheldybett

Offline Rwood

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Re: New Zealand Weather Summary for 1938
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 05:04:40 PM »
Disastrous flood events in February and April, particularly in Hawkes Bay with the Anzac flooding, worst hit being the Esk Valley. For the period November 1937 to March 1938, dry sunny conditions in the south and west of the South Island contrasted with damp cloudy weather from North Otago to North Canterbury.


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