February 7, 2009
Canterbury's bumper summer is about to heat up again with forecasters tipping the country's record for the hottest day could be under threat tomorrow and Monday.
Forecasters are picking temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius on both days in Canterbury and Marlborough as weather patterns conspire to produce possibly the hottest days in 30 years.
Blue Skies Weather forecaster Tony Trewinnard said the New Zealand record of 42.4C was set in Rangiora and Jordan, Marlborough, on February 7, 1973 and conditions looked to be similar to that day almost exactly 36 years later.
'Sunday and Monday are going to be very warm days all over New Zealand, but particularly over Canterbury,' he said. 'The sort of numbers coming out of the computer are not dissimilar to 1973, when they were record-setting temperatures in the 40s.
'I wouldn't go so far as to predict Christchurch is going to see a 40-degree day, but the chances are somewhere in Canterbury and Marlborough is likely to see 40C.'
Trewinnard said due to the rarity of such hot days, New Zealand planners did not allow for such temperatures, so people needed to realise there were dangers.
'The tar on roads starts to melt and railway lines buckle. All sorts of things start to happen at that level of temperature . . . we put out warnings for snow and wind, but high temperatures can be dangerous because they can have unexpected consequences.'
However, Trewinnard said it was difficult to predict an exact temperature, because even high cloud could cool things down.
'But on those days it should be the warmest seen this summer, and the warmest for many summers . . . we may even have a new record.
'Both days are likely to be very warm and people need to be aware of that.'
Trewinnard said farmers and pet owners needed to ensure animals were well watered.
During the hottest day in 1973, Christchurch poultry farmers lost 26,000 birds in the heat and many secondary schools gave their pupils the afternoon off. Freezing workers walked off the job because of the heat and the Fire Service was stretched by forest and grass fires.
Last month brought the hottest day since 1998, with the official temperature hitting 35.7C in Christchurch on January 8.