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Temperature records for the start of spring have been shattered in parts of Australia as cloudless skies across the continent have heated the air that is now lingering over eastern capital cities, setting the nation up for what is expected to be a long and hot summer.
On the NSW Far South Coast at Ulladulla, even before midday the September temperature record was broken when a reading of 32.6 degrees was taken at 11.40am.
At Sydney airport, it was 31 degrees at 1pm, while Penrith reached 36.3 degrees at 2pm.
Sydney has now had its first run of five days above 30 degrees in September in recorded history. Melbourne is expected to break its record of seven days above 20 degrees in September tomorrow. Strings of seven days above 20 degrees were recorded in 1907 and 1987.
The hot spring weather comes after large parts of the northern hemisphere had their hottest summer on record. Extreme weather events caused drought, flood and fire as average global temperatures climbed to their hottest in about 120,000 years, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.
The clear skies across the continent are in keeping with weather patterns that typically drive high temperatures in Australia, including what is known as a positive Indian Ocean Dipole and an El Nino event.
“While the Bureau [of Meteorology] has not declared El Nino yet, we have already seen signs that El Nino is occurring in the Pacific Ocean, but the bureau just wants to see that sustained for a number of weeks before an official event is declared,” said Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino.
The BoM’s next climate driver update is expected to be published tomorrow.
The US Climate Prediction Centre has declared an El Nino, as has the WMO and the Japan Meteorological Agency. Domensino expects the BoM’s criteria for a declaration may be met in the coming weeks.
Either way, the positive Indian Ocean Dipole is expected to strengthen over the coming weeks, increasing the chances of spring remaining hotter and drier than usual.
Domensino said record ocean and atmospheric temperatures recorded around the world were likely to be having an impact on how the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Nino are developing, complicating predictions of weather to come.
“Basically, there are climate drivers that are influencing Australia’s weather playing out in a global environment that we simply haven’t seen before in recorded history,” he said.
Australia’s national area-average mean temperature for August was 2.28 °C warmer than the 1961–1990 average and the second-warmest on record (since 1910) for the month and the warmest since 2009, according to the BoM’s monthly summary, which also shows rainfall was below average for the southern two-thirds of Queensland, most of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, and for large parts of South Australia, southern Northern Territory and south-western Western Australia.
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