New Zealand heatwave sparks health alerts and scramble for fans
The following sea surface temperature anomaly map for January 27, 2018 shows that sea surface temperatures around New Zealand were way above average, relative to a 1985-2001 baseline. The hot ocean waters contributed to record breaking heat.
A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country and causing a nationwide shortage of fans.
Temperatures have soared above 37C (98.6F) in parts of the South Island, with records broken in Dunedin, Wanaka, Christchurch and many other cities and towns.
Ben Noll, a meteorologist from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), said unusually warm sea temperatures were the major factor contributing to the heatwave, as the mainland experienced a dramatic rise in land temperatures as soon as the sea rose above average. Niwa has recorded seas of 24C to 26C around Auckland, compared with 18C to 22C at the same time last year.
New Zealand was tracking towards its warmest January on record, Noll said, with high temperatures expected to continue into February.
He added: “In New Zealand its quite rare to get above 30C or even 35C, so New Zealanders are finding this tough because it’s not something they’re accustomed to.
“We have no fans left and air conditioning is much less prevalent than in many other countries.”