Many heat records for February set last week

February 16, 2017

Last week was noteworthy for many record high temperatures for February being established in inland SA around Tarcoola, Coober Pedy, and Woomera: and over a vast area of NSW and inland QLD. The majority of places had readings of 46 or 47 degrees and some places had records dating back more than 120 years. In our regions, Coonabarabran recorded a temperature of 43 degrees last weekend and this broke the long standing record of 42.5 on February 25th, 1889. Heat records were set also at Moree, 47.3, Narrabri, 46.5 and at Walgett, 47.9. Narrabri's record broke the long standing record of 45.5 on February 8-9th 1879. 

Bourke and Cobar last weekend both had their hottest February day since 1889. Over in outback QLD, Charleville, Roma, Cunnamulla and St. George also had their highest February temperature on record. St George's 46.8 last Sunday 12th February, was also the highest temperature ever recorded in QLD surpassing Cloncurry's record February temperature of 46.4 in February 1889. There has been higher temperatures in February at Birdsville in the far SW part of QLD . 

There were no heat records in Victoria. Mildura's 46.3 last Thursday February 9th was well below the February record of 48.1 in 1892 and 1901. Hay's 47.4 just eclipsed the 1968 record of 47.2.

By a remarkable contrast a wide area of WA had heavy rainfalls the past week . Many places had record February rainfalls and on top of heavy December and January rainfalls, some places have had a record wet summer. Maximum temperatures have been three to four degrees below normal. Perth received 134 mms in two days , the heaviest two day total in February since 1955 and the summer rainfall of 191 mms is a new record in 140 years of recordings. Perth also had it's coldest February day in 130 years of records and the maximum temperature of 17.4 last Thursday 9th February was nearly 30 degrees lower than some those places which had record high temperatures. Darwin had it's wettest two days for February since 1955 last week. 

Walgett has now had 33 days this summer with daily maxima 40 degrees or more. This is the greatest number of 40 degree days since 39 days in the 1951-52 summer. 

The current very hot weather is certainly well out of phase following excessive rains from May through to October last year in our regions. The excessive December to January rains at Alice Springs and further north to Tennant Creek and Daly Waters in central NT certainly would not have set up a very hot summer in our regions. 

Currently an active cold change is sweeping north through our regions and will reach out back QLD by Monday 13th. A return to very hot weather will be slow considering the below normal maxima over WA and Central NT . After the early February 1952 heatwave in our regions; the summer of 51-52 had been very hot, a notably active cold change arrived during the second week of February 1952 and there was an absence of hot weather until early March. The winter of 1951 was wetter than average in our regions. 

There are some indications that the rest of this year may follow the 1889 pattern . If it does so March will be very dry , but heavy rain arrived early April and continued up to November. 

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