Yesterday was the shortest day and the longest night of the year. These days, most workers and students leave home in the morning when it’s dark and also arrive home in the evening when it’s dark. However, the shortest day is not the middle of winter. July is usually the coldest month.
There is a huge difference in temperature between the far north of New Zealand and the south. Today, the north had a maximum temperature of 15 degrees while parts of the south had a maximum of only 4 degrees. To make matters worse, large areas of the South Island are covered in snow. The snow on Friday was heavy enough to bring power lines down in some places like Tekapo. Some people have been without electricity for 4 days. Dunedin had a very heavy snowfall at the end of May and now has more snow.
The West Coast of the South Island had heavy rain instead of snow. The rain brought flooding. In the last two days, Taranaki and the lower North Island have also had flooding. The Whanganui River burst its banks at high tide and flooded houses. More than 300 people had to leave their homes.
Although snow in Otago and Canterbury and floods on the West Coast happen from time to time in winter, this year it seems worse than usual. Is it climate change? Can we expect more damage to houses, farms, roads, bridges and power lines this winter?
• floods (countable noun), flooding (uncountable noun) to flood (v) – too much rain brings too much water
• burst its banks – a collocation (group of words which go together) – the water in the river came over the banks of the river.
Three useful expressions:
• To make matters worse – idiom meaning that a bad situation gets worse
• The snow was heavy enough to … it was + adjective enough to + verb e.g. he was tall enough to reach the light; she was old enough to drive
• some people have been without electricity – ‘to be / go without’ is a common idiom e.g. to go without food for a day; to be without money; to be without fear