Curlers feel the heat on first throw of season

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Balmy temperatures are proving problematic for Mackenzie’s curling fraternity.
Curlers converged on Rob’s Pond, near Lake Tekapo, for their first throw of the season on June 19 but had to cut it short when ice cracked up, participant George Empson said.
‘‘Everything went well. It was brilliant in the first round, then the ice decided to pack up and a couple of guys went through.’’
Luckily, no-one was harmed when the ice failed, as the pond is only about 60cm deep. However, some curling stones which went to the bottom had to be retrieved.
The ice was about 12cm thick at the time. Ice was still covering the pond despite the warmer temperatures, but was probably only about 7cm thick now, Mr Empson said late last week.
In previous years it had been as thick as 28cm.
Mr Empson said this winter had been warmer than the last, illustrated by photos he took a year apart.
‘‘I went down to get the same [photo] at the same time this year and had to have waders on. It was good for the ducks,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s a thermometer there and it’s showing 5C,’’ he said last Friday.
‘‘Normally this time of day and year it should be -5C or -7C. It’s quite amazing actually.’’
He said westerly breezes had kept the cooler temperatures away.
‘‘Normally up here, if we can get a deep polar southerly or southeasterly that’s what will bring the decent snow, but it’s not happening.’’
However, there was still time for that weather pattern to change. And, last weekend there were signs of it doing just that.
‘‘We had a bit of snow yesterday,’’ he said on Monday.
‘‘At 6.30am it was snowing quite heavily and it stopped again about 8am — it was just starting to settle quite well. Within two to three hours it was all gone.’’
He said the weather forecast for the next week to week and a-half predicted temperatures would drop again.
‘‘It’s early days yet — it could change. Within a few days [the area could] be back to snow and ice.’’