Summer? What summer?

Whatever happened to summer? Thats the question on many locals and holidaymakers lips on the Northern Rivers after an unseasonally cool December.

While many parts of the country suffered from drought, the North Coast saw its fair share of wet and cold days during 2006 and is now experiencing one of the mildest summers on record.

Lismore had the lowest average maximum temperature for December on record at 26.6 degrees with the previous record of 26.8 degrees set in 1999.

The average temperature for Lismore last month was 21 degrees, the equal lowest on record since 1907.

And the same weather patterns that have dried out the rest of NSW are what is being blamed for the recent rain in the Northern Rivers.

But climate change is not necessarily the culprit of the unusual weather conditions, according to the Bureau of Meteorologys climate monitor, Clinton Rakich.

Mr Rakich said an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean had caused a series of high-pressure systems in southern NSW resulting in south-easterly winds on the North Coast.

These warm moisture-laden winds from across the Tasman hit the Great Dividing Range before being forced into the upper atmosphere where the cold condensed into rain.

Mr Rakich said sea temperatures in the Tasman and Coral Seas were now significantly below average, causing the colder temperatures in northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

The unpredictable nature of the El Nino effect meant it was impossible to link the unseasonable weather with climate change.

Mr Rakich said every town in the Northern Rivers had average to above average rainfall and below-average temperatures during 2006.

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