Australia cooked in January

2013-02-02 14:52
Greenpeace activists. (File, AP)

Greenpeace activists. (File, AP)

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Sydney - Australia experienced its hottest month on record in January, despite floods and storms that devastated parts of the country's east, officials said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said both the average mean temperature of 29.68°C and the average mean maximum temperature of 36.92°C surpassed previous records set in January 1932.

The nation's central outback sweltered under a "dome" of heat for much of the month, with the Northern Territory posting its hottest mean temperature on record for January of 31.93°C, the bureau said.

"The heat wave in the first half of January was exceptional in its extent and duration," it said in a statement released on Friday.

"The national average maximum temperature on 7 January was the highest on record. Numerous stations set records for the most days in succession above 40°C, including Alice Springs (17 days) and Birdsville (31 days)."

The bureau said a large number of weather stations set all-time record high temperatures during the heat wave, including Sydney (45.8°C on 18 January) and Hobart (41.8°C on 4 January).

The highest temperature recorded during the heat wave was at Moomba in South Australia, which hit a scorching 49.6°C on 12 January.

The bureau said the heat wave, which aided bushfires in the eastern states, was followed by extreme rainfall and flooding for some coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The rain caused extensive flooding in the Queensland towns of Bundaberg, where some houses were washed away and roads destroyed, and Gladstone among others.

"Gladstone received 820mm of rainfall in four days, which exceeded its previous record for a whole month, and more than the annual rainfall recorded in 2011 or 2012," the bureau said.

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