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Icy windscreens aside, winter may be warmer this year

Kim Treasure31 May 2021
Sunrise at the lake

Chilly mornings have been giving way to beautiful autumn days in the nation’s capital. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Those of us who have been scraping ice off their windscreens this week may find it hard to believe, but most Australians are in for a warmer than average winter according to the latest seasonal outlook released by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Winter Climate Outlook shows overnight temperatures will be warmer than average for the majority of the country with coastal areas in particular expected to experience warmer than average days.

Southern parts of Australia could also find it’s a drier winter than average.

Bureau Climatologist Dr Lynette Bettio said this was consistent with observations from the past 20 years which show a trend towards drier than average conditions in Australia’s south during autumn and early winter.

“Our climate drivers are currently neutral, meaning we’re not getting El Niño or La Niña bringing particularly dry nor particularly wet conditions to the continent,” Dr Bettio said.

“Warmer ocean temperatures to the north of Australia may increase the moisture available, enhancing rainfall and resulting in a wetter than average dry season across much of northern Australia but, as it is dry season, rainfall totals will not be high.”

Autumn has been wetter than average for certain parts of the country including for most of New South Wales, southern Queensland and coastal Western Australia.

“New South Wales had its second wettest March on record with the extreme rainfall and severe flooding late in the month,” Dr Bettio said.

Canberra, on the other hand, recorded 25.4mm on 4 May and 12.4 mm the following day but little since.

It was the coolest autumn for most of Australia since 2015. In Canberra, the lowest maximum daily temperature recorded at the airport so far this month was 12.1 on 15 May, with the lowest overnight temperature of -5.4 recorded on 16 May.

“Cool conditions would have been felt particularly keenly by residents in inland NSW, which recorded minimum temperatures one to two degrees below average,” Dr Bettio said.

To determine above and below average the observed data is compared to data for the 1961-1990 period. This period is recognised by the World Meteorological Organisation as suitable for assessing long-term climate variability and change.

Original Article published by Kim Treasure on The RiotACT.

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