Heat melts weather records in north

By Country News

An ‘‘unprecedented’’ January heatwave has seen records tumbling and seen last month recorded as one of the hottest on record.

The sweltering conditions were felt across the state with average maximum temperatures climbing well above 35°C in towns across the Goulburn Valley and southern Riverina.

‘‘We’ve seen extremely warm temperatures across large parts of the country in January, and the region around Shepparton was no exception,’’ Bureau of Meteorology climatologist David Martin said.

‘‘The mean temperatures at both our Shepparton airport site and our main site in Tatura are tracking to be the warmest on record for January.’’

The mean maximum temperature at the Shepparton Aerodrome observation station was tracking more than 4°C hotter than the 22-year average for January, up to 36.6°C from the long-term average of 31.8°C.

It was a trend replicated across the board, with Deniliquin experiencing sweltering conditions throughout the month, reaching an average maximum temperature of 37.8°C while Echuca experienced an average maximum temperature of 36.8°C.

Conditions were slightly more comfortable in Seymour and Strathbogie, with the towns experiencing average maximums of 35°C and 32.7°C respectively.

The previous hottest January average in Shepparton was 34.4°C, recorded in 1999.

The maximum temperature record for January was broken not once, but twice, first on Friday, January 4, when the mercury hit 44.6°C and again on January 25, when it climbed to 46.2°.

The previous high of 44.3°C was recorded on January 31, 2009.

Bureau senior climatologist Andrew Watkins said the heat through January was 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,’’ Dr Watkins said.

‘‘The main contributor to this heat was a persistent high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, which was blocking any cold fronts and cooler air from impacting the south of the country.’’

Victoria recorded its warmest January on record for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.

Rainfall was below average, with most of the state receiving less than 20 per cent of its January average.