Australia records hottest January

World | 1 Feb 2019 10:43 am

Australia sweltered through its hottest month on record in January and the summer of extremes continued with wildfires razing the drought-parched south and flooding in expanses of the tropical north.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the January record on Friday as parts of the northern hemisphere had record cold.

Australia’s scorching start to 2019 — in which the mean temperature across the country for the first time exceeded 30 degrees Celsius — followed Australia’s third-hottest year on record. Only 2005 and 2013 were warmer than 2018, which ended with the hottest December on record.

Heat-stressed bats dropped dead from trees by the thousands in Victoria state and bitumen roads melted in New South Wales during heatwaves last month.

The South Australia state capital Adelaide on Jan. 24 recorded the hottest day ever for a major Australian city — a searing 46.6 C.

On the same day, the South Australian town of Port Augusta, population 15,000, recorded 49.5 C — the highest maximum anywhere in Australia last month.

Bureau senior climatologist Andrew Watkins described January’s heat as unprecedented.

"We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes,” Watkins said in a statement.

The main contributor to the heat was a persistent high-pressure system over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand that blocked cold fronts from reaching southern Australia.

Rainfall was below-average for most of the country, but the monsoonal trough has brought flooding rains to northern Queensland state in the past week, leading to a disaster declaration around the city of Townsville.

Queensland’s flooded Daintree River reached a 118-year high this week.

Emergency services reported rescuing 28 people from floodwaters in the past week.-AP

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