‘Destroyed’: Grim sign for Aussie summer

Australian rainfall percentages September 2023. Photo: BOM
Australian rainfall percentages September 2023. Photo: BOM

Temperature records have been “absolutely destroyed” after Australia sweltered through its driest, hottest September on record, with authorities now placing total fire bans across several NSW regions in response.

The unenviable data spells a devastating summer for the country as firies in multiple states continue to battle some of the most intense bushfires seen this year.

Total fire bans are now in place for the Northern Slopes, North Western and Greater Hunter areas as NSW’s northeast faces high and extreme fire danger ratings on Wednesday.

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said as of 9am on October 4, fire crews were battling 73 fires across the state.

A bushfire is still raging out of control in the Bega Valley on the south coast, though rain from a cold front has brought some relief.

Residents were urged to evacuate yesterday however the bushfire warning was downgraded to a Watch and Act on Wednesday morning.

The 5272 hectare blaze is expected to keep firefighters busy on Wednesday.

Victoria’s Gippsland region was thrown into chaos with several bushfire emergency warnings enacted throughout the day on Tuesday.

The rainfall average across the entire country was a “measly” 4.8mm of rain, described as “one of the lowest monthly totals for any month” going back to 1900, according to WeatherZone meteorologist Joel Pippard.

Australian rainfall percentages September 2023. Photo: BOM
The majority of the country received between 0 to 20 per cent of its average rainfall. Photo: BOM
Australian rainfall deciles September 2023. Photo: BOM
The dry weather was particularly bad in the southern parts of Australia. Photo: BOM

“Victoria and the broader Murray-Darling Basin have missed the rain the most, with both regions recording their driest Septembers on record,” he said.

“Across the Murray-Darling Basin, rainfall averaged 5.6mm, just 16 per cent of what would normally fall during the month.”

Melbourne also had its driest September in 168 years, with only 10.8mm falling in the gauge.

The nation also experienced its third hottest month in history, while NSW, Victoria and WA had their heat records “absolutely destroyed”.

Maximum temperature anomaly September 2023. Photo: BOM
Not only was September dry, it was the hottest on record for parts of the country. Photo: BOM
Maximum temperature deciles September 2023. Photo: BOM
Huge parts of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia saw their highest temperatures on record for September. Photo: BOM

Maximums in Victoria were 3.77C above average, while Western Australians suffered through temperatures that were 3.54C above average.

“NSW also had their hottest September on record, an insane +5.07C hotter than average, beating the previous record of +4.73C from 2013,” Mr Pippard said.

El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole are to blame for the hot and dry weather, with the Bureau of Meteorology declaring both of these climate drivers in September.

Australia wasn’t the only country enduring scorching conditions according to Mr Pippard.

“This past month was likely the hottest September on record for the entire globe, as well as the hottest surface ocean temperatures on record for September,” he said.

“El Nino and climate change are the main culprits for this most recent trend.”

With the two weather events already in play, expect to see hotter and drier than average conditions for the rest of the year.