Climate: 2016 was fourth warmest year, says BOM

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Capture Australian Mean Temperature Anomaly (Courtesy: BOM) Capture
map rain decile year Australian Rainfall Deciles 2016 (Courtesy: BOM) map rain decile year
map tmean decile year Australian Mean Temperature Deciles 2016 (Courtesy: BOM) map tmean decile year

Last year was the fourth-warmest on record in Australia, with the country also recording unusually high rainfall, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s 2016 climate summary.

The effects of a strong El Niño were felt early in 2016, the BOM says, though it broke down in Autumn, leaving the drier weather behind with it.

From May onwards, higher-than-average rainfall was recorded in most parts of the country, coinciding with the central tropical Pacific Ocean approaching La Niña thresholds.

Also affecting the weather between May and November was a strong negative Indian Ocean Dipole, causing warmer waters off the west coast and contributing to higher rainfalls.

Much of Australia saw its highest rainfall on record for the month of September, making the spring season abnormally wet.

In his review of the Claas Axion 870 tractor, technical editor Tom Dickson expressed his exasperation with the unpredictable climate.

"The 2016 spring season was a frustrating one for most of Victoria and New South Wales," he wrote.

"Rain continued to fall, and any hint that temperatures were starting to warm up were quickly quashed by another blast of wintery conditions.

"Hay production was near impossible, with many farmers taking the safer option and choosing to use the short windows of opportunity to produce silage."

While wintery conditions were frustrating for farmers in south-eastern Australia, Western Australia was drier than usual, with some areas experiencing the lowest rainfall on record during both autumn and spring.

On top of this, WA fell prey to significant bushfires early in the year in the Yarloop-Waroona region just south of Perth.

Queensland and the eastern states also experienced drought-like conditions for a short time at the beginning of 2016, though this was later replaced by flooding in southern Queensland from June to September, and inland NSW and Victoria during September and October.

More wild weather was seen in South Australia in late September, when storms and tornadoes caused widespread damage and left many South Australians without power.

Victoria also copped some pretty heavy weather, with storms igniting bushfires in late November.

These storms also triggered severe ‘thunderstorm asthma’ for many people who had not previously experienced it, as the air was affected by the wet weather and high pollen counts.

While Victoria was experiencing fires through spring, Tasmania was being flooded (as it was earlier in the year during January and June).

"Heavy rain on 30 September set several September daily rainfall records and caused flash flooding and rapid river rises in several catchments including the Macquarie, North and South Esk, Huon, Derwent, Meander and Jordan," the BOM says.

"The Macquarie River at Cressy peaked on 2 October at the fifth-highest level since records began in 1985, inundating large areas of agricultural land.

"Later in October further rainfall in already saturated catchments led to renewed minor flooding in the Macquarie, Huon and River Derwent catchments."

As well as the flooding, Tasmania also recorded its warmest year on record.

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