Tahunanui Playground after the ex-tropical cyclone hit Nelson in February. Photo: Michael Burt

Hottest December and wettest February

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Nelson experienced its hottest December and wettest February since records began more than 150 years ago.

The reports are part of why Nelson is focusing on climate change in its next Long Term Plan.

Niwa and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology last week issued a statement to document the strange weather over the last few months.

It found that more than 50 places in New Zealand set new summer temperature records, and another 50 had their second or third-hottest summer.

This included Nelson, which along with three other locations, experienced its warmest December, with records going back to 1862.

Many record, or near-record, high summer mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures were observed across all regions of the country.

The hottest summer on record also brought extreme rainfall events – including Cyclone Gita, which brought mass flooding to Nelson.

Nelson recorded 234 mm of rain for February 2018, which made it the wettest February in its 156-year historical record. Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says because of these sorts of statistics, climate change is focused on in the long term plan.

“Certainly, we’ve been seeing, and I think we should anticipate more intense rainfall events and drought conditions. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen the extremes.”

“I think, really as a community we should anticipate we are going to see more of those extremes. February was very challenging for us, with the storm surge and ex-cyclones. We should expect more of those.”

Rachel says council needs to be engaging with our community about the risks around climate change but also focusing on what we can do around “climate action”.

“So we’ll be looking at the next 10-50 year period and there will be impacts from climate change that I don’t believe are going to be reversible in that period.”

She says equally Nelsonians need to be thinking about what can we be doing to start to minimize our impact.

“If any country in the world can actually get its head around climate change then it should be New Zealand.”
– With NZ Herald