Voting Weather

by Tom on September 16, 2014

There are signs that this election could have a good turnout. Advance voting is about twice what it was at the same stage in the last two elections, and there have been over 35,000 new enrolments since I posted about poor enrolment figures: nearly 1500 in Wellington Central alone!

However, one thing that can still put people off on the day is weather. According to the latest long-range forecast, Wellington can expect rain or showers, with a high of 13°C and a cool southerly change. This time of year we often get what meteorologists call “a disturbed southwesterly flow” across the country: for Wellington, that means highly changeable conditions, with a series of fast-moving fronts bringing alternating northerlies and southerlies. They can be tricky to pick more than a day or two ahead, because a slight change in timing or a subtle shift in the direction of flow can make a huge difference: from wet, gusty northerly to cold, showery southerly, and even fine and calm conditions if we end up sheltered by the South Island.

MetService are wisely not giving any more detail than “rain or showers with a southerly change” at this stage, but based on my previous meteorological experience, the computer models give a bit more insight. Here are three frames that span election day.

Election day weather 2014 - animated GIFMy first thought was: “yuck!” The rainfall patterns show that it’s highly likely to be wet at least some of the time, and the wind arrows show a shift sometime in the morning from a good ol’ blustery northerly to a brisk southerly. However, it looks like there are two fronts: a morning one that brings a southwest change, and a later one bringing a beefier southerly up the South Island. In these situations, it’s common for Wellington to get a brief respite behind the main front: we could end up sheltered by Marlborough during the afternoon, before the really nasty southerly arrives. If that were the case, then the afternoon could be a good time to venture out to your local polling place and make your democratic voice heard.

However, the weather systems are fast-moving, and the situation could easily change by then. If you think that wet weather would put you off voting (and I can understand that if there is no voting booth within an easy, sheltered walk from home), then I would suggest making an advance vote. The forecast and computer model both show that you’ll stay pretty dry any time from tomorrow morning until Thursday evening, so getting your vote in early could be a smart move.

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