Hard News by Russell Brown


When the Weather is the News

It's hardly unusual for the weather to be news in New Zealand, but you know something up when it's news on the other side of the world. But there we are, in the Guardian, the Telegraph and juxtaposed with any amount of celebrity boobage on the Daily Mail website. The Guardian even has a sports story about it

New Zealanders are desperately hoping it will not be another white World Cup in the southern hemisphere following England's success in Australia eight years ago, but is the cold snap enveloping much of the country an omen?

No. No, it isn't.

Here in Auckland, we are not trudging through anything, the electrical supply is stable, the airport is open and the weather is actually looking quite nice for the rest of the week.

But yesterday was the coldest day on record: the mercury never climbed beyond a terrifying 8.2º Celsius. It blew like a bastard in the early morning, with emergency calls up threefold as trees came down and things tipped over. And it snowed for only the third time in the past century. Yes, we're calling it snow. When it almost never snows, you don't need more than one word for snow, let alone a word like "graupel".

I was in a meeting at the Museum, talking about the LATE I'm curating in October (details soon), when a dozen staff rushed out the south door. I followed them. We laughed as the snow swirled around us, sighed as it turned to sleet. Hamish Keith, "75 years on the planet" yesterday, got snow on his shoulders in Ponsonby. And a lot of people in the CBD saw this:

The remarkable thing is that 2011 is also the year in which Auckland has seen its warmest February and May on record, and experienced a deadly and destructive tornado. As a simple statement of fact, we have experienced unprecedented extremes of weather.

But not, of course, anything like what was going in in Wellington last night, when I actually started to feel quite worried that my friends were home and safe, and wondered if that poor 3 News reporter doing a live cross from Mt Vic might actually die on camera. But there was also this magical video by Ro Tierney by which to remember the day:

Things were even more extreme in Christchurch, of course, but they don't really complain there any more: they have become experts at nature.

So … how was it for you? And how is it today?

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