By Belinda Tasker
(Australian Associated Press)
After officially sweltering through the warmest autumn on record, Australians can expect a return to normal chilly weather this winter.
The mean temperature between March and the end of May hit a fresh high of 23.86C, with records set in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Thermometers hovered 1.86C above average, the biggest climb above an average seasonal temperature since spring 2014.
Some of the hottest temperatures were recorded during the prolonged heatwave in March, with Mardie in Western Australia’s north hitting a scorching 47C, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Dr Karl Braganza, the bureau’s manager climate monitoring, says a strong El Nino and global warming pushed thermometers to their highest levels for autumn since records began in 1910.
“Everywhere except the southwestern corner of the continent was exceptionally warm,” he told AAP on Wednesday.
“What we saw was a prolonged summer period in March and that continued into the start of May.”
March notched up its hottest days on record, with daytime temperatures in April hitting new highs before May ended the season with temperature gauges sitting above average.
Sea surface temperatures were also above average for much of autumn, with water temperatures in the Coral Sea (including the Great Barrier Reef) and the Tasman Sea the highest on record for extended periods since late summer 2016.
But with the El Nino weather pattern now over in the Pacific region and the bureau forecasting a normal winter, it’s time to start thinking about swapping T-shirts for winter woollies.
“The odds are for average to below average temperatures in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra,” Dr Braganza said.
Dr Braganza said there were moderate odds for good rain in inland NSW, most of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia this winter.
Autumn rainfall averages were closer to normal, but varied significantly across the country.
It was also the wettest May since 1983, with four times the average rainfall recorded in the Northern Territory, Cape York, Pilbara, Kimberley and central South Australia.
South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia enjoyed above-average rain while NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory were drier than normal.
Looking towards spring and summer, cooler and wetter conditions are tipped for the tail end of 2016 as a La Nina weather system develops.
PHEW WHAT A SCORCHER!
* Hottest autumn day was 47C at Mardie, WA
* Hottest wet season ever recorded in the NT
* Tasmania had its wettest autumn since 1977
* Warmest autumn since 2005 in WA
* SA had its third-warmest autumn nights
* Rainfall in southeast Qld was well below average
* Sea temps were well above average off the NSW coast
* Average minimum temps in Victoria were second-warmest on record.
TEMPERATURE RECORDS TUMBLE
* NSW: 2.21C above average, hottest temp 43C
* VIC: 1.88C above average, hottest temp 42.1C
* QLD: 2.35C above average, hottest temp 43.9C
* SA: 1.56C above average, hottest temp 43.9C
* WA: 1.35C above average, hottest temp 47C
* TAS: 1.1C above average, hottest temp 32.8C
* NT: 2.21C above average, hottest temp 44.8C.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology