ACT News

Canberra weather: 2015 a year of extremes, climate report says

We shivered through Canberra's coldest winter in 15 years and sweated through an early-season heatwave but the Godzilla El Nino pushing our weather to its extremes may have peaked

Australia lived up to its reputation as a land of droughts and flooding rains in 2015, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's annual climate statement, and the ACT was no exception.

Canberra recorded 122 days over 25 degrees in 2015.
Canberra recorded 122 days over 25 degrees in 2015.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Around a third of our days were above 25 degrees while our rainfall was slightly below average, senior climatologist Agata Imielska said.

"We've had an east coast low which caused heavy rainfall on April 8 [53.2 millimetres], that was quite a significant rainfall event. We've also had some cool temperatures, there was a minimum temperature recorded of -7 degrees on June 2, that was the coldest June night since 2000," Ms Imielska said.

Canberra was inundated with heavy rain on April 8.
Canberra was inundated with heavy rain on April 8. Photo: Melissa Adams

"Conversely we also had some significant heat wave conditions. One in particular which broke records was two consecutive days above 31 degrees on October 5 and 6, that broke some early season records for seeing those warmer temperatures."

2015 was Australia's fifth warmest year on record under the influence of the most significant El Nino in nearly two decades, with about 5 per cent less rainfall than average.

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It is also likely to be the warmest year on record globally, the bureau said.

For Canberra it was our equal seventh warmest year in terms of maximum daytime temperatures.

Snow settled on the Brindabellas behind Parliament House in August.
Snow settled on the Brindabellas behind Parliament House in August.  Photo: Andrew Meares

Canberra recorded 17 days of rainfall exceeding 10 millimetres, slightly down from our average of 19 days, Ms Imielska said.

"It's a bit more closer to average in terms of what we've seen in regards to rainfall [across Australia]," she said.

Eight of Australia's 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2002, while only one year in the past decade was cooler than average - 2011.

While Canberra only experienced five days over 35 degrees - our average is six - what we did experience was "persistent warmth", Ms Imielska said.

"Canberra had 122 where were saw temperatures of at least 25 degrees. Normally on average, we see 89 days."

Although the El Nino in the Pacific may not break up until autumn, the monster event which rivals the 1997-98 and 1982-83 events, appears to have peaked in recent weeks, the bureau said on Tuesday.

For Canberra, this means a continuation of warmer daytime temperatures and more heatwaves to come.

- with Peter Hannam