A dark yellow sunset set against the bushland. Photo: Michael Schier
Canberra’s spring has been a season of extremes at both ends of the spectrum, with warmer than usual days, cooler nights, and higher total rainfall over fewer wet days.
The rainfall figures stand out, after record-breaking wet periods in September and November helped push the overall spring total to 210 millimetres, about 30 millimetres above average.
It was the wettest spring since 2005.
But most of that rainfall fell on just a handful of days – there were four days which recorded more than 25 millimetres over the period, which was equal to the record.
This included two days in November where more than 65 millimetres fell, and a daily rainfall record in September when 57 millimetres fell within a 24-hour period.
In contrast, October was the sixth-driest on record, with just 13.4 millimetres of rain.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Sean Carson described the falls as significant, and said although rain had fallen in just a few days over spring, it was generally “good, soaking rainfall”.
“We seem to be getting our rainfall in pretty big falls at the moment in small periods of time, with six to eight week pretty dry spells in between,” he said.
Having fewer wet days had an impact on temperatures as well, which were forced to extremes at both ends of the spectrum.
The average daytime temperature for spring was 21.9 degrees, 2.5 above the average, and the fifth-warmest spring on record. But the nights were colder than usual, at an average of 4.8 degrees – 1.2 below the historical average, and the seventh-coldest on record.
“The fact that our rainfall fell on just a very few days but significant rainfall just goes to show that there were more clear days, which tends to allude to warmer days and cooler nights as a general trend,” Mr Carson said.
There were also a total of 11 nights below zero over the season, more than the historical average of eight, and two record-breaking cold snaps. These included the coldest October morning on record and the first time two consecutive frosts were recorded in November 4 and 5.
Looking ahead, Mr Carson said three-month outlooks showed an average to warm summer for the capital.
“[There are] no strong swings to either wet or dry for our part of the world over the coming three months, and temperatures are still strongly favoured to be above average,” he said.
While Australia heads for its hottest year ever, Canberra looks likely to just miss out on recording its warmest year on record.
BOM climatologist Acacia Pepler said the capital would have to be more than 3 degrees above average over December to pip the previous hottest year, which was set in 2006.
“We have had Decembers that warm in the past, but it’s more likely that we’ll come in at the second warmest,” she said.
Entries have now closed for the Canberra Times Spring Photo Competition. The winners will be announced later this month.