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Australia's hottest spring on record

Ben Domensino, Tuesday December 1, 2020 - 14:25 EDT

Australia just had its hottest spring on record, with a searing heatwave in the final days of November helping push the season into unchartered territory.

In records dating back to 1910, Australia's mean spring temperature had never reached 2ºC above the 1961-1990 'long-term' average prior to 2020. This year, it hit an unrivalled 2.03ºC above that 30-year average, setting a new record for the season.

The previous spring record for Australia's mean temperature was 1.81ºC above average in 2014.

The national average maximum temperature for spring 2020 came in at 2.15ºC above average, which was only the 5th highest on record behind 2014 (+2.15ºC), 2019 (+2.40ºC), 2015 (+2.21ºC) and 2013 (+2.19ºC).

But while days weren't record-breaking in spring, nights most certainly were.

The national mean minimum temperature in spring was 1.91ºC above average, beating the previous record of +1.46ºC by nearly half a degree. The season's exceptionally warm nights - which are a typical feature of La Niña - are what helped make the country's mean temperature a new record.

Image: Australia's spring mean temperature anomalies between 1910 and 2020. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

Spring's exceptional heat was capped off by a record-breaking heatwave in the final days of November - which also turned out to be a record-warm month for Australia based on the national mean temperature.

Weather stations in NSW and SA registered new state spring maximum temperature records last weekend. This heat has spilled into the first day of summer, with temperatures likely to reach around 48ºC in parts of northern NSW on Tuesday afternoon.

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