How Australia’s hottest year on record unfolded

How Australia’s hottest year on record unfolded

04 January 2014

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Australia — It was a year of heatwaves and bushfires, sun, cyclones, and melting bitumen.

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that 2013 was Australia’s hottest year since records began in 1910.

Here are some of the stand-out weather events from across Australia as the nation turned up the heat in 2013.

Scorching summer sets the tone

We got a taste of things to come early in the year as a heatwave which began in the south-west in December 2012 spread into southern and eastern Australia in January.

Temperatures spiked on January 7, delivering the nation its hottest day on record.

The national temperature – the average of hundreds of daily readings across Australia – hit 40.3 degrees Celsius. It was 47C in Oodnadatta.

This was the hottest month on record, and the January 2-8 period was the hottest week.

Sydney endured its hottest day on January 18, with the mercury hitting 45.8C on Observatory Hill.

And the highest temperature recorded during 2013 was 49.6C at Moomba in South Australia on January 12 – the highest temperature in Australia since 1998.

The month also saw major bushfires in south-eastern Tasmania, devastating towns in the Tasman Peninsula, and across Bass Strait in Victoria.

Heat returned in March, and again later in the winter

Persistent heat returned to the south-east corner in March, with Melbourne experiencing nine straight days above 30C and even Launceston managing eight straight.

There was also what the bureau calls “unusual warmth” across much of Australia in late August and into September, with the August 31 daily average maximum of 29.92C marking a winter record.

The period’s warmest day was September 26, when central and southern inland parts of Queensland had their hottest September day on record.

Cyclones: Rusty tops list as most intense

Ten tropical cyclones brewed up around Australia in 2013.

Tropical Cyclone Rusty was the year’s most intense storm, raking across the Pilbara and western Kimberley in late February packing winds of up to 200kph.

Before that, there had been widespread flooding across the east coast at the end of January, as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald drenched areas from Sydney to Cape York.

South-East Queensland’s Upper Springbrook, famous for its waterfalls, received nearly 1.5 metres of rain in eight days.

Towards the end of the year, Tropical Cyclone Alessia paid a visit to the NT in November – the Territory’s earliest cyclone in 40 years – heralding an unusually early start to the wet season.

Victoria becomes tornado alley

At least 20 people were injured in Victoria on March 21 when tornadoes hit the state’s north-east.

Roofs collapsed, trees came down and people were hit by flying objects as the twisters hit an area between Cobram and Rutherglen.

Adelaide sets autumn heat record

Adelaide had its hottest May day in more than 90 years on May 8 when the temperature peaked at more than 31C.

The reading was more than 10 degrees above the May average.

Bushfire season comes early

Spring bushfires raged in New South Wales, with major blazes in areas including the Blue Mountains destroying dozens of homes and blackening the skies over Sydney.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill described the combination of hot temperatures and high winds during October’s fires as “unprecedented”, but the predicted megafire mercifully failed to materialise.

The Federal Government rejected claims the fires were linked to climate change, but the Climate Council said climate change was increasing the probability of extreme fire weather days and was lengthening the fire season.

King-sized hail and Sydney storms

Queensland’s storm season was well underway by November, as Sunshine Coast residents found to their cost as they were pelted by hailstones the size of tennis balls on Saturday, November 16.

The potentially deadly ice balls rained from the sky as storms battered a region from the Gold Coast north to Noosa.

Damaging hail also hit south of the border in October, while Sydney was hit by gales which brought down trees and power lines and ripped roofs off homes and businesses in several areas.

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