Large parts of central and southern Australia are currently under the influence of a persistent and widespread heat wave event, leading to a number of new temperature maximums. The Bureau of Meteorology expects further significant records to be set. The heat wave, which is pushing the limits of previous temperature extremes, has required an adjustment of the scale used to represent forecast temperatures with new colours representing 50-52°C and 52-54°C.
According to a Special Climate Statement issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, the current heat wave extends a four month spell of record hot conditions affecting Australia. These hot conditions have been exacerbated by very dry conditions affecting much of Australia since mid 2012 and a delayed start to a weak Australian monsoon.
For September to December, the average Australian maximum temperature was the highest on record with a national anomaly of +1.61 °C, slightly ahead of the previous record of 1.60 °C set in 2002. The start of the current heat wave event traces back to late December 2012, and all states and territories have seen unusually hot temperatures with many site records approached or exceeded across southern and central Australia.
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