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Australia's 4th warmest and 10th driest September on record

Ben Domensino, Wednesday October 2, 2019 - 14:16 EST

Most of Australia experienced unusually warm and dry days during September, continuing a trend seen throughout the rest of 2019 and kicking off what is expected to be an active bushfire season in some parts of the country.

Last month was Australia's 10th driest September in 120 years of records and the 11th consecutive drier than usual month for the country as a whole.

While daytime temperatures were notably warmer than usual across most of the country, nights were relatively cool in many areas. This combination of warm days and cool nights is a typical feature during prolonged dry spells, because the lack of cloud and depleted groundwater promotes overnight cooling and daytime heating.

Impressively, last month's national diurnal temperature range, which is the difference between the national mean maximum and minimum temperatures, was the second highest on record for September.

Last moth also rounded out Australia's warmest and fourth driest January to September period on record based on national mean maximum temperatures and rainfall.

Unfortunately, the combination of dry and warm weather during September helped produce to a spate of early-season bushfires in parts of NSW and Queensland, some of which are still burning now.

At the local level, some areas in northern Queensland experienced their coolest September on record based on minimum temperatures. This included Palmerville, which has more than 100 years of observations. 

However, days were notably warm in many areas of Queensland. Rockhampton had its 4th warmest September in 80 years of records based on maximum temperatures, with only four days managing to stay under 28 degrees. Rockhampton's long term average maximum temperature during September is 27.5 degrees. 

Further south, drought-weary areas of northern NSW had yet another dry month. Tenterfield only picked up 6mm of rain, making it their sixth driest September in 149 years of records. An analysis by Monash University has found that rainfall in Tenterfield during September has dropped by nearly 20mm since the late 1800s.

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