WIDESPREAD heatwave conditions returned to large areas of Australia in mid January after a record-breaking hot December.
An unusual extended period of heatwaves over much of the country started last December and continued into January.
For nationally-averaged mean maximum temperatures, Australia had its hottest December day on record and third hottest for any month.
This was followed by an unprecedented sequence of five consecutive days with nationally-averaged maximum above 40 degrees Celsius from January 12 to 16.
January 15 was the second-warmest day on record for any month.
The last extensive and long-lived heatwave was recorded in 2012-13 and affected large parts of Australia in late December 2012 and the first weeks of January 2013.
The 2012-13 event coincided with a late onset of a northern monsoon, preventing moisture and clouds from moderating inland temperatures, similar to 2019.
The heat was notable that summer with records set in every State and Territory and the nationally-averaged daily temperature rose to levels never previously observed, and did this for an extended period.
The heatwave was a major factor in January 2013 being the warmest month on record for Australia.
Last year was the opposite, with a low pressure system forming Cyclone Joyce on January 11.
The current northern Australia wet season is below average with an extreme change to the 800-1000 millimetres recorded for last year’s monsoon season.
The Pilbara and Kimberley regions recorded between 400-1000mm for January 2018 after the monsoon trough developed to the north west of Australia, with thunderstorms and showers developing over the top end in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.
Areas of heavier falls were recorded south of an embedded low pressure system over the Kimberley, with the low pressure system tracking south west to the rest of WA.
This weather saw many grain growing areas record up to 100mm or more 12 months ago, totally different to the January 2019 figures.
This year the Geraldton zone has received no rainfall for January and the Wheatbelt and Narrogin received 2mm, Northam 1mm and Southern Cross 3mm.
There have been small showers around Esperance, with the town recording 0.4mm, Ravensthorpe recorded 5.8mm, Munglinup 3mm and Rocky Gully received 9.4mm.
Dry weather is predicted to continue until April.