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2022 burns thermometer

Last year was New Zealand’s hottest on record, according to a just-released National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research [Niwa] report.

While Wairarapa is weathering a glum start to 2023, Niwa said the 2022 nationwide average temperature was 13.76 degrees Celsius.

That was 1.15 degrees Celsius above the 1981-to-2010 annual average and surpassed 2021’s by 0.20 degrees Celsius.

Throughout the year, Wairarapa experienced a mix of extreme rainfall, dried-out soils, and warmer-than-normal temperatures.

On February 13, the North Island and upper South Island were impacted by ex-Tropical Cyclone Dovi – the first cyclone to make landfall in New Zealand in nearly four years – including heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts.

Across Wairarapa, the cyclone caused slips and road closures, including SH53.

April was a warm and dry month, with normal or well-below-normal rainfall across much of the North Island. Wairarapa, however, enjoyed normal or above-normal soil moisture.

May was the third-warmest May on record for New Zealand, and by the end of the month, drier-than-normal soils were widespread across Wairarapa, while rainfall was below normal.

Although July was New Zealand’s wettest month on record, coastal Wairarapa was an exception with below-normal rainfall.

The extreme wet hit Wairarapa in September, with up to 149 per cent more rainfall than usual.

Like most of the North Island, Wairarapa had higher-than-normal temperatures in December, despite an unpredictable rain pattern that saw the region again experience up to 149 per cent more rain than the norm.

Across New Zealand, no months were below average in temperature, while November was the warmest.

The report also noted the country’s top-four warmest years on record have all happened since 2016, a trend that is consistent
with climate change.

An earlier Niwa report commissioned by Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC], published in 2021, said Wairarapa was set to become hotter and drier with more extreme rainfall.

At the time, GWRC councillor Thomas Nash said the report reinforced that the sooner we all brought our emission-generating activities into line with the reality of our changing climate, the better off we will be long term.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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