NSW HAS recorded its warmest year on record as Victoria and the country as a whole sweltered through their third-warmest year on record.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement for 2018 said Australia’s 2018 annual mean temperature was 1.14°C above average, while the mean annual maximum and minimum temperatures were above average for all states and the Northern Territory.
While 2018 was the warmest year on record for NSW for both mean temperature (1.68°C above average) and mean maximum temperature, the mean minimum temperature was the state’s fourth-warmest on record.
BoM said NSW was dominated by very dry conditions, with the third-driest January to September on record and the sixth-lowest annual rainfall on record; its driest year since 2002.
Victoria also saw below-average rainfall last year, with all months except December being drier than average, while the mean maximum and minimum temperatures were above average across the year.
Rainfall in Victoria during 2018 was about 25 per cent below average, the lowest since 2006.
Victoria’s mean temperature was 1.14°C above average, making it the third-warmest year on record.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries expects drought conditions in NSW will continue in to 2019.
NSW DPI climate applications and digital agriculture leader Dr Anthony Clark said large parts of western and central NSW remained in the ‘Drought’ or ‘Intense Drought’ categories of the NSW monitoring framework, despite some isolated storms throughout December.
“While some parts of the state received scattered storm activity leading up to the new year, this hasn’t been sustained enough to allow for significant pasture or crop production,” he said.
“That means there has been very minimal opportunity for dryland summer cropping, and there are very low levels of ground cover so farmers have had to continue feeding their livestock.”
Data from a NSW farm dam survey has underlined how critical conditions have become in some areas, particularly in western NSW.
“In this part of NSW, the nature of the drought event has shifted such that farmers and communities are not just managing an agronomic event (low primary production), but the hydrological impact is evident with critically low water reserves,” Dr Clark said.
BoM’s outlook for January to March indicates a drier than average three months for eastern Australia, while warmer than average days and nights are likely for almost all of Australia