It’s going to be a hot day for parts of New Zealand as MetService issues a heat alert for Auckland — whilst Canterbury moves to a total fire ban tonight.
The prohibited fire season applies to all areas in Canterbury north of the Rakaia River, from the high country to the coast including Christchurch.
MetService has issued several heat alerts in the North Island — including most of Auckland and parts of Coromandel Peninsula.
Temperatures are forecasted to reach 28 degrees in the country’s largest city and a heat alert has been issued for the region – excluding Kumeu, Pukekohe and Warkworth.
A heat alert has also been issued for Whitianga in the Coromandel Peninsula.
MetService is trialling the use of heat alerts from November through March in an attempt to reduce health impacts from hot weather.
People are urged to keep hydrated, seek shade, check in with vulnerable people and look after pets and livestock in regions with heat alerts.
High temperatures are also forecast for other parts of the North Island. In Te Kuiti, temperatures are expected to reach 30 degrees today.
How long will this last?
Relief is on the way towards the end of the week.
A fresh set of fronts from the Tasman Sea will soon bring gusty winds and cooler temperatures, according to MetService.
MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said in a media release the beginning of February would herald a “sharp weather change” as a “strong frontal system” moves up the country on Friday.
“Its approach is preceded by a cranking up of westerly winds across the country on Friday, which lasts into the weekend,” he said.
“The weather system also brings a temperature drop, starting over the South Island on Friday and reaching the lower and central North Island by Saturday.”
He added: “Friday and Saturday will certainly look and feel quite different from the start of this week.
Total fire ban in Canterbury
Canterbury District will move to a prohibited fire season from 11.59pm tonight, until further notice, according to Fire and Emergency. A prohibited fire season means no open-air fires are allowed and all existing fire permits are suspended.
The enforced prohibition follows several fierce vegetation fires in the past several weeks, which have threatened homes and seen large evacuations carried out.
Looking ahead, District Commander Dave Stackhouse said there was “little to no relief” expected in the forecast in the next few months.
“Hot, dry, and windy weather is expected to continue, causing vegetation to dry out. In these conditions, fires spread quickly and are difficult to control,” he said.
“Our strategy is to escalate the resources sent to vegetation fires on days when the fire danger is extreme. This requires large responses from crews which will put a heavy burden on our crews, especially our volunteers, their families, and employers.”
He urged people to take extreme care when undertaking any activities that may cause sparks, like mowing, welding, or driving vehicles in long dry grass.
“People must have ways to extinguish any fire that may start from sparks and not undertake this work during the heat of the day, instead defer to early morning when the temperature is lower,” Stackhouse said.
“People also need to be prepared to evacuate their homes if they are impacted by a wildfire. In four of the most recent fires across Canterbury, people were either evacuated or under prepare to evacuate orders.”