Signs of an early spring

With July gone the worst of the winter is now behind us, and here in Dunedin it has been another fairly mild winter. There are signs of another early spring, the fifth year in a row that the season is weeks ahead of what had been normal.

We will get some more cold spells, we can get southerlies at any time of year, but the chances of a long cold spell are just about gone by now.

So far we’ve had the least snow I can remember for some time, a bit on the hills and a few flakes in the air but very little. And we’ve had only a handful of frosts, and they haven’t been hard. No road problems.

Weatherwatch:  Is this really winter? Because it feels more like early spring

It’s August 1st today and this is usually considered the true depths of winter, but across New Zealand we’re hearing it feels more like an early spring especially on a week with warmer than average weather.

I’ve never seen August as the depths of winter, for me that’s June and July. We are usually emerging from the worst of it by August. Especially in recent years.

Across New Zealand we’re getting reports of blossoms out, pasture suddenly growing and temperatures well above normal, not to mention lambs and calves being born, or even monarch butterflies hatching. Not only does it FEEL like spring but there are physical signs of spring in nature. It’s not just subjective.

The timing of lambs and calves has nothing to do with the weather at this time of year. Their timing is set well in advance of winter. Our ram usually gets active in April, so we get lambs in September regardless of the weather.

This isn’t the first year has declared an early start to spring. It’s happened every year for the past five years.

That’s how it’s been here. Daffodils are well on their way, trees are coming into bud, and grass is starting to grow again I mowed lawns in July for the first time ever. More mowed today.

So has winter officially ended early? No, we’re basically transitioning out of winter and into spring a few weeks early – which means we’re likely to have a longer spring. In mid August 2011 we had a snow storm that brought snow to downtown Auckland and the hills of Northland, so you can never say never – but the latest long range models indicate more southerlies next week but nothing polar at this stage. More days are frost free than have the risk of frost.

More days have been frost free than frosty here right through the winter. And it looks unlikely we will get anything other than the occasional touch possible from here.

So, looking forward to the onset of the annual refreshing and colourful growth of spring.

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  1. Up here, the first spring flowers are over and have been for a while.

    My daphne was late flowering, and I thought that the poor thing’s flowers had been a casualty of the mild winter. But when it did flower, it has made up for lost time.

    There was one noticeable frost, but it didn’t hang around, and the others that were forecast have been non-starters. It’s been good for the power bill, but if the constant sales of winter clothes are anything to go by, the mild weather is not an unmixed blessing for everyone.

    • Gezza

       /  1st August 2018

      We’ve had a few sunny days in Welly with little wind over the last few weeks but the prevailing weather pattern at the moment is grey skies, norwesters, occasional southerly changes for a day or two (the planes start coming in to land over my place) & generally it’s still damp & chilly. You need to wear warm winter gear outside most days.

      I think we’ve had only about 5 or 6 light frosts – where the rooves are frosted in the early morning, & maybe a bit of lawn frost here and there, but not all the lawn, so – while it’s unpleasantly cold, it’s not been bitterly so – as it used to be years back.

      I am seeing coprosmia starting to appear on the parenga below my place, though, & that’s a bulb & usually a Spring growth that dies off in a month or two. It’s got an orange red trumpet flower so it’s a good plant for a pukeko nest as it’s a wee bit harder to spot a little red plate & beak amongst it when a pook is doing its shift for a few hours sitting on the eggs.

      I’ve seen two monarch butterflies flutter through my back yard this week, & that’s unusual for this time of year. The Summer Lilac weed on the parenga isn’t flowering yet. That attracts squadrons of them.

      • The Monarchs have been around all winter, not as many as there are in summer, but I have seen quite a few.

        We have had some nights when it has felt as if a frost was coming, but it doesn’t happen. No lawn frost except on one day, I think. I remember when I was a child in Palmerston North (and perhaps in Wanganui) walking on the frosty grass and making that crunching sound. And pretending to smoke when it was cold enough to see our breath.

        It was cold here for a while in the winter of 2016, but not for the whole winter, thank goodness.

        We used to have cold fogs, but these are far less frequent now. I was told that draining peat land had helped.

  2. Gezza

     /  1st August 2018

    July August has been the worst wintery weather here over the last few years. Last August different from that pattern though. Welly had warm sunny weather with little wind from August well into December & January.

    I think last year might have been the first one I can remember in a long time when a wintery ‘blast’ (as 1ewes always calls it) didn’t roll up the country in September, with late snowfall killing lambs somewhere down South & making the news, even though it’s been a pretty regular annual event?

    • It’s always a wintry or icy blast on New Shub as well, never just a cold wind.

      Does 1 Ewes say that the images following are ‘confronting’ ? What a bloody silly expression.

      • It’s been so mild here for the last ? winters that I haven’t worn a jacket or cape all winter.Even on cold days, a long cardigan is enough. I was in a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans and sandals today and quite a few people have been in short sleeves. There have been many days when it’s been possible to go out dressed as I was today and not feel cold.

  3. My last power bill was under $90, and I haven’t been mean with heating when I need it.

    • I see that Wan Kerr is among those present.

    • Zedd

       /  2nd August 2018

      lucky you.. mine was $108 & I only have the heater on some of the time 😦

      • My newish sittingroom heater is a Goldair radiant, and has three levels. It only needs one bar most of the time, it was a real investment.

        I had an 800 watt Goldair radiant in here, and it was enough most of the time, too, It’s now in the bathroom. Luxury ! It only needs to be on for a few minutes.

        There are mats on the carpet in here because the carpet is a boring grey, and as a bonus, they seem to act as flooring insulation.

  4. Zedd

     /  2nd August 2018

    still haven’t seen any snow in my yard.. but there is still a definite ‘nip in the air’ down in otepoti-sth 🙂


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