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Piste off - balmy May weather just too warm for skiers

New Zealand

May 27, 2007

The balmy May weather is threatening to delay the start of the ski season. Most fields are due to open in early June, but say they have only a thin or non-existent snow base. "Traditionally we have opened in the first or second week of June but this may be a different year for us." Snowmakers are on standby for the temperature to fall low enough to start the snow-making machines. Most parts of New Zealand are over a degree warmer than average this month, with parts of Canterbury and Otago two degrees warmer than usual. If the warm weather continues, May will be on track to be the warmest in 20 years or even the warmest on record. By mid-May last year, a biting southerly had brought hail and snow. This year the southerlies have yet to really arrive and warmer northwesterly winds are dominating. Sea temperatures are also above average and the difference between actual and normal May temperatures is growing daily. It is UNUSUAL that no region is experiencing below average temperatures. Bug exterminators are in demand for fly removal, which is not usually needed by this time of year. More UNUSUALLY, in the last fortnight there has been demand for killing cockroaches, not normally a problem in the far south. Electricity demand is also significantly below last May, with demanding actually falling week by week so far this month, whereas electricity demand normally increases from Easter through to the middle of winter.

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