More extreme summers on the horizon

THE south-west’s summer was hotter than average and future summers will only get hotter.

That’s the warning from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), which says the higher-than-average summer temperatures in the south-west are another example of the effect of climate change.

BOM Victoria senior climate liaison officer Kevin Smith said most south-west centres experienced temperatures between 0.4-1.9 degrees above average during the 2013-14 summer.

Rainfall in the south-west was also well below average,  with most centres receiving between 50-65 per cent of their average summer rainfall.

The higher summer temperatures and lower rainfall experienced in the south-west were replicated in most parts of Victoria, with the past summer being the third warmest recorded in Victoria.

In the Wimmera, some weather stations recorded their lowest summer rainfall on record.

Mr Smith warned that days of extreme summer heat would become more common in future as the effects of climate change accelerated.

“Ten to 15 years ago having one 40-degree day a year in Melbourne would have been news,” he said.

“Now we have four days of 43 degrees.

“It’s going to get higher and higher.”

Mr Smith said that apart from the higher average day temperatures during summer, there was not as much overnight relief from the heat.

Overnight summer temperatures in most south-west centres were between 0.1 and 1.1 degree higher than average but Warrnambool’s remained on average.

Warrnambool’s hottest day of summer was February 2, when 43.6 degrees was recorded at the city’s airport.

Casterton had the region’s hottest summer day on January 14 when it wilted under 44.4 degrees, while Dartmoor was melting on February 2 when its weather station recorded 44.2.

South-west centres recorded their top summer temperatures during January 14-17 or on February 2.

Warrnambool’s total summer rainfall was 73.6 millimetres, only 65 per cent of its average summer rainfall of 113.9mm.

Mortlake received only 61.8mm, 56 per cent of its summer average of 110.4mm, Hamilton got 66.4mm, or 64 per cent of its summer average, while Port Fairy received 66.2mm, only 63 per cent of its summer average.

Portland fared slightly better, with the weather station receiving 83.6mm, 73 per cent of its summer average.

ehimmelreich@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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