WA weather hands state hottest March ever recorded on the heels of scorching summer


April 01, 2019 20:23:41

Western Australia has recorded its hottest-ever start to autumn on the back of its warmest summer on record.

Key points:

  • Hot Pilbara weather pushed WA’s March mean temperature 2.37C above average
  • Perth was warmer than usual too, with a mean maximum of 30.1C
  • The city has had its driest start to the year since 2014, with 6.2mm of rain last month

The state’s mean temperature, which takes into account the maximum and minimum temperatures, was 2.37 degrees Celsius above average for March and the highest on record for the month, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

It eclipses the previous record set in March 1980, which was 2.05C hotter than average.

Emulating the summer trend, the autumn heat was largely driven by the blistering conditions in the Pilbara, which saw Roebourne Airport soar to a maximum of 48.1C on March 10.

That was the highest March temperature ever recorded in Australia.

“The Pilbara region and also northern inland parts of the state are our heat source basically, because in the summer the sun is almost directly overhead that area,” BOM climatologist Yanhui Blockley said.

“[Until the end of the month] we didn’t get any tropical systems to bring rainfall, to bring relief, to the north west and inland areas.

“They already had a hot summer but there was no relief to bring a cool change.”

Temperatures in Perth were warmer than usual too, with the mean maximum coming in at 30.1C — 0.5C above average — and the mean minimum ending at 17.3C, 0.6C above average.

It was a similar story right around the country, with March the warmest ever for Australia as a whole.

The national mean temperature was 2.13C above average.

Cyclone Veronica drenches Pilbara, but Perth misses out

Perth recorded a paltry 6.2 millimetres of rain in March, bringing its total so far this year to 13.6mm.

“That is the driest year to date since 2014 in Perth,” Ms Blockley said.

Perth typically receives about 50mm of rain between January and March, based on data collected at the metropolitan site for the past 26 years.

Statewide rainfall was 36 per cent below average, despite Tropical Cyclone Veronica soaking the Pilbara towards the end of the month, with Port Hedland receiving more than a year’s worth of rain in a matter of days.

Port Hedland Airport recorded 179.4mm on March 24, setting a new record for the month.

But the north and east Kimberley experienced an incredibly dry “wet season” and rainfall was scarce along the west coast, north of and including Perth, and on the south coast, east of Esperance.

The BOM is predicting that the chance of rainfall being above average from April to June is close to 50 per cent across the country, meaning there is no indication the next three months will be significantly wetter or drier than usual.

But it is looking less likely that coastal areas of WA’s south-west, from around Jurien Bay down to Albany including Perth, will exceed their average rainfall amounts.






First posted

April 01, 2019 19:55:22

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