Record three-year warm and dry spell in NSW

Ben Domensino, 8 January 2020

New South Wales has just experienced a three-year period of warm and dry weather that has no precedent in official records.

As of December 2019, the state had registered 38 consecutive months with above average mean temperatures, relative to the 30-year period from 1961 to 1990.

Image: Monthly temperature anomalies from 1950 to 2019, relative to the 30-year average from 1961-1990. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

This prolonged warm spell beats the previous record of 34 warmer-than-usual months between June 2012 and March 2015. Observations for average temperature in New South Wales are available back to 1910.

In addition to this warmth, the 36 months from January 2017 to December 2019 was the driest three-year period starting in January on record for the state.

Image: Rainfall deciles for the 36-month period from January 2017 to December 2019. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

This exceptionally dry period beat the previous record from January 1900 to December 1902 in the Federation Drought. Average rainfall data for New South Wales is available back to 1900.