Thu, Feb 2, 2023 7:30 AM

Forecast gloomy for sunshine race


Matt Brown

Overcast days and rain has seen Marlborough start 2023 well behind in the sunshine race.

Blenheim has started in eighth place for January with 211.7 sunshine hours, nearly 100 hours behind Cromwell, in Central Otago, in the top spot with 308.6 sunshine hours.

And the month still set a record: the least windy.

Plant & Food Research scientist Rob Agnew blames overcast weather early in the month for low temperatures and the lacklustre start to the sunshine race.

“The first 2-weeks of January were very overcast,” he says.

“Average daily sunshine from 1 to 14 January was 5.19 hours compared to the long-term average (LTA) daily sunshine for January of 8.57 hours.

“Ten of the 12-days from 15 to 26 January recorded above average sunshine as these 12-days recorded no rain.

“These 12-days also prevented January 2023 becoming the least sunny January on record. However, the final 5-days of the month saw a return of the overcast weather.”

It was a bit chilly, too. Only five days recorded a temperature over 25 degrees Celsius as measured at Blenheim Meteorological station, at the Marlborough Research Centre’s  Grovetown Park campus.

The hottest day, on 20 January, reached 29.7°C and was also the windiest day of the month.

“This low number stands in marked contrast to the previous 4-years, which have had between 10 and 20 days above 25 degrees Celsius,” he says.

Rob says January was a very calm month, with only one day exceeding the daily wind-run LTA of 268km.

“This is the lowest January wind-run total on record for the 28 years 1996 to 2023,” Rob says.

The average daily wind-run was 177.8 km, 66 per cent of the LTA of 268 km.

Rain was another feature of January, with 60.4mm of the wet stuff falling on the region – the second highest amount in recent history.

“The above average rainfall in January 2023 follows 4-years (2019 to 2022) when January recorded very low rainfall,” Rob says.

“The most recent previous year with higher January rainfall was 2018, with 80.4 mm. However, February 2018 also recorded 181.4 mm rain, the highest February total on record.

“February 2022 recorded 153.4 mm, the second highest February total on record.

“Hopefully February 2023 will not bring high rainfall.”

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