24 Jan 2020

Temperatures could soar past 35C for some this weekend

8:55 am on 24 January 2020

Much of the country is heating up this weekend, to temperatures that could bring a heatwave, say weather experts.

Ice cream is a must during the hot weather.

Ice cream is a must during the hot weather. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

NIWA meteorologist Maria Augutis told Morning Report it's going to get toasty out there.

With a big high pressure sitting overhead, it's really locking in the warm air, she said.

"Eastern parts of the South Island particularly could see temperatures soaring past 35C."

That's due to the north-westerly winds that, when moving over the Alps, heat up really quickly bringing high temperatures, she said.

The heat will continue several days into the the later part of next week too.

Augutis expects central-upper Canterbury to feel the brunt of it, but even today Alexandra is forecast to reach a high near 33C or 34C.

Invercargill today can expect up towards 10C more than average temperatures for this time of the year, sitting near 30C.

Is it a heatwave? Augutis said that's up for debate.

"It definitely looks like we could be in this weather pattern through to late next week," she said.

Earlier, weather commentator Richard Green told First Up much of the country has waited a while for summer to get going.

The wait is now over, early next week much of the country can expect temperatures in the high 20s and low to mid 30s, Green said.

"That will be close to a heatwave, where you need about three to five days in a row with temperatures 5C above normal or more, we'll be pushing that."

Meanwhile, Wellington is yet to reach 25C this summer.

"Maybe with this, the capital will get close to those temperatures rising above 25C. Out of the six main centres of New Zealand, Wellington is the one that has the coolest maximum (temperatures) overall and even Dunedin outstrips the capital."

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Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

There's no respite in sight, Green said, with much of the country looking very dry at least for the next week.

With the heat comes there's an extreme risk of fire and drought in some areas.

"We've seen a gradual increase in the fire danger across many areas of the country, in particular the North Island and East Coast of both islands. Obviously with the very warm conditions that are coming, that will further compound that situation over the coming days," Fire and Emergency rural fire manager Tim Mitchell said.

NIWA's Maria Augutis said they're observing meteorological drought in places such as eastern Northland, eastern Auckland and parts of Waikato.

"With the drying heat over the coming days, we do expect that to continue," she said.

Other spots that are dry and could get worse with the weather to come include the East Coast of both islands, from Gisborne to Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and then in to Marlborough, Dunedin and Canterbury, Mitchell said.

It's important to take care when using machinery and equipment outdoors, he said, as any spark could start a fire.

Activities that historically may have not been a problem in the summer could now be a risk. These include motorbikes, four-wheel drives, lawn mowers - particularly in long vegetation.

Tips for keeping your pets safe in the heat

  • Make sure there's plenty of water available
  • Keep them in the shade if possible
  • Walk dogs in the morning and late at night