Weather

Australia's hottest summer on record

Ben Domensino, 28 February 2019

Preliminary figures reveal that Australia just experienced its warmest summer on record.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, this summer is likely to be Australia's warmest and among the top ten driest in more than a century of records.

The season included Australia's hottest December and January on record, during which maximum temperatures were a whopping 2.41 and 3.37 degrees above average, respectively.

Summer's unprecedented heat was caused by a delayed start to northern Australia's wet season, a persistence of blocking high pressure systems to the east of Australia, and the influence of rising global temperatures.

The late arrival of the monsoon in northern Australia allowed heat to build across the country during December and January. This hot air was then trapped over Australia by blocking high pressure systems in the Tasman Sea. In addition to these weather features, Australia's climate has warmed by just over 1C since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of heat events.

At the local level, Canberra experienced its hottest summer on record, based on minimum, mean and maximum temperatures. The city also experienced its first four day spell over 40 degrees in 80 years of records.

It was also Hobart's hottest summer on record based on mean, maximum and minimum temperatures, and their driest in five years.

Sydney had its third hottest summer based on mean and maximum temperatures, falling behind 2017 and 1991. The city also registered 29 minimum temperatures above 20 degrees during January, which is a new record for any month.

Brisbane had one its four warmest summers on record, despite the city failing to reach 37 degrees throughout the entire season. It was also the city's third driest summer on record, with less than one third of the season's usual rainfall reaching the gauge.

Adelaide's West Terrace weather station registered one of its five hottest summers, while the city's Kent Town station experienced its hottest summer on record, based on maximum temperatures. It was also Adelaide's driest summer in 20 years.