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Sydney tosses and turns through a pair of record hot nights
It probably comes as no satisfaction to Sydneysiders, in this long hot summer, to learn that the early morning "low" temperatures yesterday and today were the warmest consecutive nights in 158 years of record, with minima of 25.8° yesterday and 26.2° this morning.
Don White of WeatherWatch also told AWN that "this morning's low of 26.2 in Sydney was the fifth warmest night on record", though one of those happened just under two months ago on 14 December 2016. "There have been five nights this summer with a minimum temperature of 25° or more," he said. "Previously this had occurred just 23 times in 158 years or about once in six years."
The hot night extended inland to the Central West and Hunter Valley regions of NSW, too. Orange's minimum of 22.5° was a February record at the airport, and in the Blue Mountains Katoomba only made it down to 24.6°, its highest minimum for February in 54 years. The stand-out record though was the station in Murrurundi with a 50 year history which only fleetingly dropped below 30 to 29.9°. That breaks the old all-time record by 1.6° and the old February record by a remarkable 3.9°.
All this follows a January in which Sydney's maximum temperatures set a new January record of 29.6° while the minimum was the highest ever recorded for any month in 158 years - 21.6°. Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Agata Imielska told The Guardian that the unprecedented temperatures were due to a combination of strong westerly winds bringing inland heat to the coast, unusually dry conditions and climate change.
"One factor is the ongoing warming trend," she said. "We’ve warmed by a degree in the past century and it’s not just about averages, we see increases in these extreme temperatures as well. It doesn’t just go for land temperatures, it also goes for ocean temperatures. In 2016 we saw the warmest ocean temperatures on record." The effect of that, she said, was to keep temperatures near the coast warmer, particularly by night.
Widespread rain in SA and VIC gives some places more than a month's rain in a day
A slow-moving rainband gave widespread rain over 10mm and frequently much more across southern SA and almost the whole of VIC during the weekend.
The rain arrived with a fanfare at Nullarbor Station on the west coast of SA in two major bursts, between 07.30 and 11.30 Saturday and between midnight and 01.00 Sunday giving a total of 50.2mm. Nullarbor's average February rainfall is a mere 14.2mm. The main area of rain moved east, arriving in the Adelaide area early yesterday afternoon, then falling steadily through the night to have 29.0mm in the Kent Town gauge at 9 this morning. Most other suburbs recorded more than this, while amounts in the Adelaide Hills were around 35 to 45mm.
Adelaide has had a wet summer, unusual in this climate. The total now stands at 164.2mm, much of which was due to a heavy 61.2mm in the 24 hours to 9am on 28 December. The record wet summer of 1924-25 is the one to beat, when 172.8mm was recorded. However, you could say that that record is a cheat. In an otherwise unusually dry summer, the city received a phenomenal dump of rain with 141.5mm falling in the day ended 9am 7 February 1925. This is far and away the highest total recorded at Adelaide's old West Terrace site or the new Kent Town one since records began in 1839.
During Sunday and into today, the rain moved on through southeastern SA giving falls of between 10 and 50mm, and on into VIC where most of the state received similar amounts. The heaviest totals of 30 to 50mm were around Melbourne, with a line of heavier falls between 50 and 60mm between Portsea and Warburton. The heaviest rain fell between about 19.00 and midnight on Sunday evening, with short, torrential downpours in places. Melbourne City received 24mm between 18.30 and 21.30, while Scoresby, in Melbourne's southeast, saw 14.2mm in just half an hour from 19.00, with as much again falling through to midnight.
The result, says ABC News, was flash flooding, widespread damage to buildings and over 400 calls to SES overnight into today. "Melbourne's inner south-west bore the brunt of the inclement weather, along with Geelong, Ballarat, Frankston and some coastal areas." Melbourne's 32.4mm to 9am this morning was its heaviest fall in three years, reports Weatherzone*, and Rhyll on Philip Island with 51.2mm and nearby Cerberus with 43.4mm both saw their heaviest in four years.
The cause of the widespread rain was a long band of cloud that lay through SA and VIC ahead of a very slow-moving cold front. An upper trough brought instability across the cloudband producing heavy rain and some thunderstorms in places, but mostly just general rain.