January Was Officially Australia's Hottest Month Ever

Now, that’s how you cool off.
Photo: AP

Australia had an intense January, complete with heat waves, wildfires, jelly invasions, and seriously sweaty nights. So it comes as no surprise to learn that January 2019 was officially the country’s hottest month ever recorded.

The Bureau of Meteorology announced this new record Friday. Across Australia, the mean January temperature across Australia averaged above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit)—a first for the country, and 2.9 degrees Celsius (5.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the January average.

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Australia broke mean, maximum, and minimum temperature records. One night in the country’s southeastern corner set an overnight low heat record for the country, with temperature failing to dip below 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit). In the daytime, temperatures maxed out at more than 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sydney.

Now, that’s really fucking hot.
Image: Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

The intense heat was the result of a high-pressure system in the Tasman Sea that kept any cold fronts from reaching the country’s southern end, said Andrew Watkins, a senior meteorologist with the bureau, in a press release. In the north, a delay to the end of monsoon season didn’t bring in the wet, cool air as soon as it usually does. That’s why the area received less than half its average rainfall for the month.

Climate change has also played a role in this dubious milestone. “The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1 degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Watkins said in the statement.

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As temperatures continue to rise, the Australian government forecasts more heatwaves, more droughts, and an increased risk of wildfires. This latest record is just a taste of what’s to come.

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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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