The graphics and statistical information on this page fill gradually as they become available, with some not available until the next day.
The page is updated every 30 minutes at about 20 and 50 minutes past the hour.
For weather news as it breaks that is tagged and organised, use the links on the Weather and Climate Media Reports page.
Monsoon returns in the north
After a short respite, the NT Top End and the north of WA slide back into monsoonal weather today as the monsoon trough drifted back over the continent.
Although the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) weakened for a period, the BoM Tropical Climate Note for this week says "climate models indicate it is likely to re-strengthen as it moves eastward over the Maritime Continent this week." The result will be increased rainfall, cloudiness and monsoon-type weather with storms and gusty winds bringing areas of very heavy rain to the north. It also brings "an increased risk of tropical cyclone development to the area" according to the Bureau. Speaking of the Darwin area, Senior Forecaster at the BoM, Graeme King, told ABC News that it was difficult to know exactly where the monsoon would be focused. "Once it starts focusing you do get some heavy falls, [but we] can't tell where that is going to happen yet," he said. "Once that westerly surge arrives some time [Friday] or Saturday we will start to see those winds really ramp-up."
This morning, the monsoon trough was just touching the northern coasts of the Top End and Cape York Peninsula, but over the next few days will push several hundred kilometres south across the whole of northern Australia. Coupled with a shallow low that has developed off the Kimberley coast and is forecast to deepen and move slowly WSW along the WA coast, there is the potential for some widespread rain right across the north from the Pilbara to Far North QLD. Sounds like that low two weeks ago.
The Big Wet in the news
The big Wet in the north has spawned a number of news stories on ABC that are worth a look.
Heat set to intensify in the south
Heat, at least in the first half of February, looks likely to eclipse even that of January in SW QLD, NE SA, and northern NSW. BoM forecasts in this area indicate no relief through to the end of the forecast period on Thursday 9 February. Moomba, in NE SA, has forecast maximum temperatures between 45 and 47° every day while Birdsville in SW QLD goes one better with a range of 45 to a top of 48° on 8 February. Minimum temperatures at both places are in the 31 to 34° range. In northern NSW, temperatures west of the Slopes are in the low to mid 40s through the period.
Some of the forecast guidance is interesting. The OCF maximum temperature forecasts are close to the BoM's through the period, but show a large area of 48° in the area from Lake Eyre to the Simpson Desert from 5 to 9 February. The nearest weather stations to this virtually uninhabited area are Moomba to the east, Oodnadatta to the north and Coober Pedy to the west. With a long period of heat buildup, it will be interesting to see if the Australian national maximum temperature record of 50.7° at Oodnadatta, SA, on 2 January 1960 is under threat. State records to watch are the 49.7° at Menindee NSW in 1939 and particularly the 49.5° at Birdsville QLD in 1972.
The longer-term guidance from the North American Ensemble Forecasting System (NAEFS) gives a 90% probability of high temperatures continuing into the second week (11 to 18 February) across the northern two-thirds of NSW and southern and northern QLD. The problem is a cradle of high pressure to Australia's east and south that is feeding hot northerly breezes and sunny skies into the heat bubble and also preventing southerly air from flushing it out. The highs are showing no sign of moving, but the bubble will ultimately be burst; the question is when and there is currently no answer in sight.
It's been hot, but also dry: life in the pressure cooker
Some statistics that may make you feel good about how bad it's been; and what it's like for those that have to earn their living in the harshest the Australian continent can throw up.
January: record heat in NSW, S QLD; wet in the north and west
Australia became two climatic countries in January, with record or very much above average rainfall across most of WA, SA and the NT keeping temperatures down while most of QLD, NSW, VIC and TAS saw clear skies, not much rain and unrelenting heat.
Despite below average rainfall in VIC and TAS and about half the average rain in NSW, the national rainfall figure came in at 125.3mm, eighth highest in the 118 years since 1900. WA was the main contributor to the high figure with a state average of 130.0mm, the third highest on record, while NT and SA saw their eighth and ninth highest monthly falls on record. The widespread rain in WA at the end of January (see AWN report for 1 February) was the main contributor to the high total in that state.
The swag of cloud over the eastern half of WA and central NT kept maximum temperatures across that large area well below the norm, though minimum temperatures stayed slightly above. Elsewhere in the country, both day and night temperatures were above average with those in NSW and southern QLD well above average. Almost all of the country that falls inside a line from Batemans Bay to SW QLD to Fraser Island had its highest January minimum temperatures on record, giving QLD overall its second highest state average minimum temperature in 108 years since 1910 and NSW its fourth highest. NSW added very hot days into that mix, pushing the state average maximum temperature to 3.67° above the 1961-1990 average, third highest in the 108-year record.
Sydney and Brisbane were the hottest of the capital cities, with heat the main topic of complaint in everyone's conversation.
In Sydney, said the Bureau of Meteorology, "every station in the metropolitan area recorded its highest January mean temperature on record and most stations (including Sydney Observatory Hill with a 158-year history) also broke records for mean maximum and minimum temperatures." At Observatory Hill, the temperature reached or exceeded 30° on eleven days, a long way above the average of three), while 35° was reached on five days (average one). In both cases, only January 1896 had more such days. However, in western Sydney the air conditioners worked overtime with Richmond recording seven days above 40° and Parramatta five, in both cases new records.
Brisbane, Brisbane Airport and Logan City had their highest January mean temperatures on record, with Brisbane setting a new all-time record for high minimum temperatures in a 117-year history. The night of 21 January was the one most remembered with both Brisbane City and Airport having their highest 24-hour minimum temperatures on record - 28.0° in the City and 27.3° at the Airport.
Eastern Australian heat made international news, with media, particularly in the freezing Northern Hemisphere, revelling in the "scorching weather". This bulletin from international news provider Al Jazeera is an example.