27 July 2023

Canberra on track for warmest July maximum temperatures on record

| Lizzie Waymouth
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National Arboretum on a sunny winter day

Based on the forecasts for the rest of July, the running average maximum temperature could be a full one degree warmer than the previous record. Photo: Lizzie Waymouth.

It’s been a month of extremes, with warm days, low rainfall and cold nights – as of Thursday (27 July), Canberra had recorded its 12th consecutive night of below-zero temperatures.

However, the capital is looking set to record the warmest average maximum temperatures in July since records began in 1939, according to Weatherzone.

As of 25 July, the running average maximum temperature for the month is 14.1 degrees Celsius. The current record, set in 2019, is 13.7 degrees. In comparison, Canberra’s average July maximum temperature is 12.7 degrees.

“With less than a week remaining until the end of July and relatively warm northwesterlies buffeting the city on Sunday, there’s no end to the unseasonably warm days in sight,” Weatherzone’s Anthony Sharwood said on Wednesday.

The maximum temperatures forecast for the remainder of the month are 16 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, 15 degrees on Friday, 17 degrees on Saturday, 18 degrees on Sunday and 17 degrees on Monday.

“And based on forecasts for the next six days, the running average max could end up in the mid-14 degree range, breaking the old record by close to a full degree,” Mr Sharwood said.

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It’s also the first time in 2023 when rainfall has been lower than the monthly average, and the second time in the past 12 months.

“Canberra has had just 9.2 mm of rain for the month to date, due largely to rain-bearing frontal systems staying well south of the Australian mainland. This is also why the snowfields have barely had a top-up of late,” Mr Sharwood said.

12 month rainfall chart

Looking ahead, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) expects below-median rainfall for much of the country from August to October.

In its most recent rainfall climate outlook released on 20 July, BOM said below-average rainfall was likely to very likely (60 per cent to greater than 80 per cent chance) for most of Australia.

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But that’s only part of the story: as you might have noticed, we’ve been having some cold nights and often the day has started with a blanket of frost.

“Canberra has been locked in a pattern of dry days with minimal rainfall … and cold frosty nights,” Mr Sharwood said.

While he pointed out frost was “hardly newsworthy”, especially considering the average July minimum temperature of 0.1 degrees Celsius, it was unusual to have so many frosty days in a row.

“Usually, Canberra gets a break from frost after a few nights as rain-bearing weather systems move through the ACT, raising the humidity and night-time temperatures. Not so much this July,” he said.

As of Thursday (27 July), the capital’s had 12 consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures. While a freezing cold morning isn’t particularly unusual for Canberrans, there have only been four streaks of sub-zero minimum temperatures lasting longer than 10 nights over the past 30 years.

As of Wednesday, Canberra’s running minimum temperature for July is -0.6 degrees Celsius.

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I’m a keen historian so unlike the vast majority of people who are historically illiterate I like to examine some of the extreme weather events of the past – and I tell you these were far worse than anything we have experienced nowadays – and we don’t have to go back one hundred thousand years or so -the Bronze age collapse which happened in about 1300 BCE was probably triggered by a lengthy drought -some historians estimate to have been as long as 300 years – and let’s get even a bit closer in time – in about 1703 western Europe especially the British isles was hit by a storm so humongous that the British fleet ended up in Sweden, thousands along the Welsh coast were drowned and even the queen (Anne in those days) had to take refuge in her palace cellar as the place was being demolished by the winds! There was a similar storm surge in the early 1950’s which saw thousands drowned in the Netherlands and even the queen’s estate in Norfolk was flooded though it was a little bit inland (Sandringham I mean) So let’s not get carried away!

” How do you compare temperatures of today Vs 125,000 years ago? Ridiculous climate hyperbole, spin and outright lies.”
You must be referring to the hyperbole, spin and outright lies of the anthropogenic climate change denialists, who claim that the current extraordinary weather events occurring around the world, are simply the same weather patterns that have occurred throughout the earth’s history.

Rob McGuigan3:19 pm 27 Jul 23

So dry, but not really and cold but not really. And “really” using the BOM as a source for anything other than daily weather has long been a joke. The BOM has “really” systematically deleted maximum temperatures from the 1920’s and 30’s in WA and SA because it doesn’t fit the political narrative on climate change and also rounding down of average rainfall figures going back decades. Just like the statement last week that the average global temperatures were the hottest ever recorded in 125,000 years. Really? How do you compare temperatures of today Vs 125,000 years ago? Ridiculous climate hyperbole, spin and outright lies.

Go home Rob, you’re drunk.

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