Hot weather photo pool christmas party. The Zoo advertising group have their roof top pool christmas party.

The Zoo advertising group have their roof top pool Christmas party. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Canberra’s second-warmest year on record was a rollercoaster ride of weather extremes, which included severe frosts, record hot days, as well as long dry spells interspersed with days of heavy rain.

The Bureau also published its summary of the ACT’s weather for the year, which confirmed 2013 as Canberra’s second-hottest year since records began, with an average maximum temperature of 21.7 degrees – 2 degrees above the historical average.

It was a year of contrast for the capital, as severe, damaging frosts in October came after a winter when just four days stayed below 10 degrees – a record for Canberra, at 15 fewer days than the historical average.

Only two nights dropped below minus 5 degrees, compared to the historical average of seven, while 47 days of the year recorded temperatures above 30 degrees, compared to an average of 32 days.

While summer and winter were relatively warm, nighttime temperatures in spring and autumn were significantly cooler than usual. Daytime temperatures were above average for every month of the year.

Rainfall was also up and down for the year, with a wetter-than-average January followed by an extremely dry period from February to May, then particularly wet weather in June and September, including the wettest ever September day on record.

Nationally, Australia smashed its previous annual heat record in 2013, with a summer heatwave and spring hot spell among the outstanding periods of unusual warmth.

The Bureau of Meteorology on Friday confirmed that last year was the hottest nationwide in more than a century of standardised records, with mean temperatures 1.2 degrees above the 1961-90 average.

The 12 months easily eclipsed the previous annual record set in 2005, when mean temperatures were 1.03 degrees above average.

Every state and the Northern Territory recorded at least their fourth warmest year by mean temperatures, underscoring the breadth of 2013's unusual heat.

with Peter Hannam