Rugby world cup 2011: No chance of a 'white out'
Distance travelled ~ 646'826'400 km
(Alex Deakin is a BBC weather forecaster and a keen sports fan. His previous post for 23 Degrees discussed the weather at the British Open. Here Alex explores how the weather will affect the start of the Rugby world cup in New Zealand, which kicked off earlier today)
Although it snowed heavily only last month in New Zealand further dumps of the white stuff are not expected as Spring kicks in for the start of the Rugby World Cup
Image courtesy of wikicommons
Being surrounded by water New Zealand, like the UK, has a mild climate for its latitude. The Islands have some of the best skiing in the southern hemisphere so they get some snow but that's thanks to the huge mountains. Snow at low levels is rare. When it snowed in August in Christchurch it was described as a once in 30 year event, so it's about as rare as a New Zealand rugby world cup win!
Another cold snap hit NZ at the start of Spring (Meteorologically speaking that's the start of September) when temperatures again dropped to freezing but now temperatures have climbed and this weekend looks fairly typical with some sunshine on Saturday and a more showery picture on Sunday. Temperatures look pretty average for the start of the tournament too, peaking in the mid to high teens.
As the tournament gets underway rain and wind will be the major weather players. Like the UK New Zealand regularly gets flown over by areas of low pressure or depressions in Spring and Autumn, these bring spells of rain and strong winds.
A strong wind will have an impact of the kicking game (penalties, conversions etc). The stadia play a big part here too with some designed to shelter the playing surface (some of the grounds being used have a roof) but other, older ones likely to create their own swirling winds and interesting micro-climates.
Rugby players are well known to be a tough bunch and a bit of rain won't hurt, however a wet pitch and a slippery ball will have an impact. A wet game is usually a low scoring game, and with so many of the group games expected to be rather one sided this could be a bit of a leveller. i.e. a shock result is more likely if its raining.
So the weather will have an impact on the rugby world cup, but if it's a typical Spring in New Zealand we shouldn't expect any snow. For updates on the weather for the games try metservice, here you can catch my old colleague Dan Corbett (yes that's where he's gone) giving video forecasts.