Hottest start to spring on record: BOM

Beef Central, 16/09/2013

Australia has recorded it hottest start to spring on record.Australia has sweltered through its hottest start to spring on record, according to a special climate statement released by the Bureau of Meteorology on Friday.

The record high temperatures for late winter and early spring follow Australia's hottest 12-month period on record, with above average mean temperatures affecting the entire nation.

On the last day of winter, Australia recorded an average maximum temperature of 29.92 degrees Celcius.

This was followed by an early arrival of very warm conditions with 31.45 ºC recorded on 1 September for Australia-averaged maxima, setting a new record for the earliest 31 ºC day by 15 days (previously 31.68 ºC recorded on 16 September 1981).

With the warm end to winter and warm start to spring, many station records have also been broken.

A new Australian early-season record of 41.1 ?C was recorded at Fitzroy Crossing in WA. The previous earliest 41 ?C recorded anywhere in Australia was on 8 September 1992 at Wyndham, NT.

The warm conditions were prolonged in many areas, especially away from the coast. As of 11 September, Alice Springs has experienced 16 consecutive days above 30 °C, the longest such run ending on or before 30 September (previous was 12 days in 2000).

Equivalent September records have also been broken at locations such as Ouyen (9 consecutive days above 25 °C) and Tarcoola (3 consecutive days above 35 °C).

While these temperatures may seem relatively mild by mid-summer standards, their occurrence during late winter/early spring is highly significant, and can be expected to have a range of impacts on agriculture and natural systems, the Bureau states.

At the national scale, inland areas have reached temperatures at the start of the month some two weeks earlier than has ever been observed before in records stretching back 50 years or more.

Behind the unusual warmth

The recent record high temperatures have come on the back of an exceptionally warm period for Australia, with above average mean temperatures affecting the entire nation.

High pressure systems during winter were positioned further south than usual, making the intrusion of cold fronts and low pressure systems across the mainland difficult.

As a result, winter was characterised by warm and dry conditions with higher-than normal pressure recorded across most of Australia.

There was a brief reprieve for southern parts of Australia during August when more normal winter weather affected the southern parts during the middle of the month.

However, above average rainfall was mostly restricted to Tasmania and the southern fringe of mainland Australia.

Temperature records set in the last 12 months across Australia include:

  • Australia’s hottest summer day on record (7 January)
  • Australia’s warmest winter day on record (31 August)
  • Australia’s warmest month on record (January)
  • Australia’s warmest summer on record
  • Australia’s warmest January to August period on record
  • Australia’s warmest 12-month period on record

The period ending August 2013 has also resulted in numerous State and Territory records including:

  • The warmest January to August period on record for South Australia and Victoria’
  • The warmest winter on record for Victoria
  • The warmest 12-month period on record for South Australia
  • The warmest winter day on record for the Northern Territory

The new national 12-month period mean temperature anomaly record of +1.11 ?C has been set. This exceeds the previous record of +1.08 ?C set in 2005–06 for any 12-month period. A similar new record has been set for SA, with a value of +1.59 ?C, exceeding the value of +1.44 ?C set in 2005–06.

A national year-to-date (January-August) mean temperature anomaly record has also been set at +1.125 ?C, with SA and Victoria also setting their respective year-to-date State records.

For the NT, both 30 and 31 August were each successively the warmest winter days on record. The 30 August temperature reached 35.46 ?C and the 31st reached 35.72 ?C, compared with the previous record of 35.44 ?C, set on 29 August 2009.


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