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Bureau says 2012 a year of climatic extremes

Thursday January 3, 2013 - 17:16 EDT

The Bureau of Meteorology says average rainfall and temperature values in its climate statement for 2012 conceal a year of contrasting weather.

The annual statement shows record rainfalls and dry spells in a year that had near-average rain overall, along with slightly above-average temperatures.

The Australian area averaged mean temperature for the year was 0.11 degrees above the 1961-1990 average of 21.81 degrees Celsius, while the national mean rainfall was 476mm, close to the 465mm long-term average.

"The first half of 2012 was cooler and wetter than average, and the second half was warmer and drier than average," the climate statement said.



Temperatures were predominately cooler than average in northern and eastern Australia, while Tasmania, the southern coast of the mainland and the south-western half of Western Australia all experienced above-average temperatures.

Despite the average overall figures, there were record rainfalls and dry spells in some areas.

Western Australia had its driest July on record while December rain brought record rainfall totals in the state's south-west.

Eastern Australia, meanwhile, was hit with "one of the most significant spring heatwaves on record" at the end of November.

Extreme rainfall in late February and early March saw the wettest seven-day period on record in the Murray-Darling basin for any month since at least 1900.

South-eastern Australia was hit by a cold snap in October which brought severe weather and snow.

The bureau says despite the average overall figures, 2012 was a year of fluctuating weather.

"When we averaged all those numbers out, it actually became almost an average year," climate services manager David Jones said.

"Temperatures a little bit above average, about 0.1 degrees [up], and rainfall almost right on average, just 10 millimetres above the long-term average."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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