Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Peak spring kicks off rise in UV levels

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Phil Duncan warns farmers to slip, slap, slop as NZ’s unjustly high rays start to sting.
As our days get longer our UV rays become more intense. Over the coming months UV levels in NZ – already high enough to cause sunburn – will reach Extreme.
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By Philip Duncan, WeatherWatch

It’s possible the peak of spring has now passed. That doesn’t mean we’re in summer and the stormy weather is done, but the weather maps for the remainder of October and heading into November do tend to look as though the worst of the spring has passed. 

Spring westerly gales usually peak between the spring equinox in late September and Labour Weekend in late October. That’s not to say November doesn’t have significant storm risks, but November does tend to be a bit “flatter” as far as extreme weather is concerned. It’s kind of fitting that the worst of all the bluster seemed to peak on election day! 

Labour Weekend is the halfway mark of spring with the first half being more on the winter side of weather and this second half bringing in far more hints of summer. Clearly there is good news for many places, but for those who are tuned into to where things may go in the months ahead thanks to El Niño, we may be inching closer to that more serious, drier, time. 

As I said previously, now is a time for optimism around New Zealand thanks to the weather conditions we’ve had over the past few months. However, November is the month when we do have to start more seriously thinking about summer – and about what changes we’re expecting to see in our skies and on the ground over the coming few weeks.

As our days get longer our UV rays become more intense. Over the coming months UV levels in NZ – already high enough to cause sunburn – will reach Extreme.

AgriHQ’s very own Haley O’Driscoll of Taranaki mentioned in a meeting last week how she got sunburn on her face while fishing last weekend, when the weather wasn’t overly hot and calm. It’s a classic reminder how our UV rays are unfairly high in this country thanks to the pollution caused by the northern hemisphere. 

So we’re one of the few places on the planet where even in mid-spring you have to treat UV rays as if we were in the middle of summer.  

Farmers are a tough bunch but it’s not hard to protect your skin. If you hate suntan lotion, as I do, wear a hat, wear sunglasses and long sleeves outdoors. If you really are in the sun all day you may have to “toughen up” and invest in some UV-protecting moisturiser – it not only makes your skin healthier to deal with UV damage, but it also protects against further damage. 

Chuck a bottle in the tractor or ute cab and just get into the habit. Sorry to be a “mum” but honestly NZ’s UV rays are now getting into moderate to high levels – and the lower temperatures make us forget it’s even a thing. You can find your local UV hourly numbers in Daily Data at

Upcoming Highlights:

• Westerlies return this week

• West Coast rain 

• Slightly milder in the east

• Cold change again this Friday, especially in the South Island and lower North Island

• First tropical cyclone of the season (one week early) possible near Vanuatu (no risk to NZ)

El Niño Watch: Personalities, gales and being proactive

Phil Duncan from WeatherWatch explains why El Niño is a personality rather than a weather forecast and gives an update on what farmers around the country can expect heading into the long weekend.

And special guest Karen Williams, from FMG, also gives sound advice on dealing with strong winds on-farm, and the ‘Stop and Pop’ campaign.

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