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Australia's Hottest Month On Record: The Numbers Are Unbelievable

So many records were broken, we hardly know where to begin.

January was Australia's hottest month on record, with average temperatures Australia-wide 3 degrees above normal.

And it wasn't just scorchingly hot on individual days. It was relentlessly hot too, with one heatwave after another.

"We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes," Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins confirmed.

Water bombing helicopters working to contain the Tasmanian fires in January.

There were countless records broken in each and every state in January, and we're going to list some of them below.

But from a national perspective, the big news is that for the first time ever, the mean national temperature in Australia was above 30. That made it 2.91 degrees hotter than normal Australia-wide.

"The main contributor to this heat was a persistent high pressure system in the Tasman sea which was blocking any cold fronts and cooler air from impacting the south of the country," the Bureau said.

"At the same time, we had a delayed onset to the monsoon in the north of the country which meant we weren't seeing cooler, moist air being injected from the north.

Sunrise was the best time of day in Melbourne this January.

As it happens, we've finally seen the onset of the monsoon (or as most people call it, the "wet season") with torrential rains up north. February has started off cooler than normal in many parts.

But nothing can erase the fact that January was an absolutely unprecedented month for the whole country. Here's the state-by-state summary of some of the most eye-popping records.

NSW

  • The mean temperature for the State as a whole was an incredible 5.86 degrees above average.
  • Overnight temperatures were 5.56 degrees above average.
  • The hottest ever minimum temperature anywhere in Australia was set in NSW, not once but twice. Try sleeping in 36.6 degrees.

VICTORIA

  • Victoria's mean temperature was 3.97 degrees warmer than the January average, making it the warmest January on record.
  • Kerang recorded 47.6 degrees on the 25th -- making it the hottest January temperature ever recorded anywhere in Victoria.

ACT

  • The mean maximum temperature at Canberra's official weather station at the airport was 34.5 degrees. That was an unbelievable 6.3 above average.
  • Canberra, which normally struggles to reach 40 because of its elevation, also recorded its first stretch of four days of temperatures that reached 40 degrees or higher.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • The state as a whole was 4.66 degrees was hotter than usual.
  • Port Augusta recorded 49.5 °C on the 24th, which was the highest temperature recorded anywhere in Australia for five years.
  • Adelaide had its hottest ever day, with 47.7 reached in two locations in the metropolitan area.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • For WA, the mean maximum temperature was 2.33 °C above average, the highest in January on record

QUEENSLAND

  • Queensland had its warmest January on record in terms of mean temperature (2.46 degrees above the long-term average).
  • The towns of Cloncurry and Camooweal both had record runs of days at or above 40. Cloncurry went 43 days in a row (ending 27 January) and Camooweal went 40 days in a row (ending 24 January).
  • Birdsville had a record run of 10 days at or above 45 degrees. The old record was six days.

TASMANIA 

  • It was Tasmania's warmest January on record, with a mean temperature for the month 2.5 degees average, as terrible fires raged across the state.
  • Hobart had its second hottest day ever of 40.1 degrees.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

  • Territory-wide, the mean maximum temperature was 3.71 degrees above the long-term average.
  • Many sites set records for consecutive days of very high temperatures: For example Alice Springs Airport had 16 days in a row above 42 degrees, breaking the old streak by five days.

The statistics above are just a sample. Literally thousands of heat records were set across Australia in January, with only a very small handful of cool temperature records.

Are they a sign of climate change?

You can never take small weather samples as examples of a broader trend, however this multitude of records was set across numerous different climate zones from coast to coast, from the tropics to the cool temperate zone in Tasmania.

This points strongly to the changing climate and the overall warming trend in the atmosphere, a fact the Bureau noted.

"The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1 degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions," the Bureau said.