That was a hot one
Saturday, 2nd February, 2019
By Callum Marshall
A new climate summary from the Bureau of Meteorology has highlighted that January 2019 was the hottest month on record in Australia.
Across New South Wales, records for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures were broken with the Menindee Post Office recording the highest state-wide temperature of 48.8 degrees on January 28.
During the month, Broken Hill Airport recorded its highest ever maximum and minimum January temperatures of 46.3 and 33.6 degrees respectively.
The area also recorded its highest maximum daily mean temperatures of 38.3 degrees, with the overall mean temperature of 30.6 degrees equalling the record set in 2001.
The maximum, minimum and mean temperatures at Menindee Post Office were the hottest in decades, almost equalling long-standing records.
A maximum of 39.9, minimum of 24 and mean of 32 degrees were just 0.5, 0.6 and 0.5 degrees short of records set in 1939.
Wilcannia and Tibooburra also broke several individual records alongside numerous other areas throughout the state and country.
The climate summary also noted that, “rainfall was 58% below the long-term average overall.
“It was particularly dry in the northeast of the State, with large parts of the Northern Rivers recording their lowest rainfall on record.”
Speaking to the media on Friday, Senior Climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology Agata Imielska said that the records being broken were “staggering.”
“We had four consecutive days of 47 degrees recorded at Menindee,” she said.
“New South Wales broke its January and previous record by an anomaly of 5.9 degrees. The previous record was 3.72.
“So this is quite a large margin even if we’re talking about the warming we’ve experienced with climate change, so around a degree, but also those previous longstanding records.
“(But) this month (has been) staggering because we’re seeing records set across a number of different metrics.
“(And) we wouldn’t be seeing the number of records being broken ... Australia and also globally, without climate change.
“Normally you’d still expect to see records being broken for warm conditions, but if you looked at the climate record as a whole you’d expect to see a similar number of records being broken for heat as well as cold conditions.
“But what we’re seeing is a really significant shift for records being set for hot temperatures and much fewer for the cooler conditions.
“So extreme heat is becoming more frequent and those cool conditions are not occurring anywhere as often as they used to.
“So when we look at climate change and the trends that we’ve observed, such as eight out of the (last) ten years being the warmest on record, this is something that’s going to remain a trend (and) that we’ll (continue) observing.”
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology added that the main cause for January’s heat was a large high pressure system in the Tasman Sea.
“That (high pressure system) had the effect of minimising cold fronts across the south-east (which) combined with the late onset of the monsoon in the north...kept dry, hot air over the interior of the continent for an extended time.”