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  • 1 March 2013, 11:43

Australia: Summer Was Hottest On Record

Those Australians who sweated through the last three months had already guessed it, but now weather experts have confirmed the summer just gone was the country's hottest on record.

Average temperatures Down Under came in at a sweltering 28.6C, 1.1C above normal.

That exceeds the previous record set in the summer of 1997-98 by more than 0.1C.

A new average daytime maximum temperature record was also set at 35.7C, or 1.4C above normal, and 0.2C above the 1982-83 record.

It was a perfect summer for ice cream sellers and air-conditioning companies as Australians tried to avoid the baking heat.

Shopping malls, cinemas and swimming pools were packed for much of the summer as city dwellers tried to escape the conditions.

Some beaches reported having to bring in extra volunteer lifeguards to help cope with the numbers trying to cool off in the sea.

Aussies sweltered through non-stop searing temperatures, especially during the first three weeks of January.

Those weeks saw the most extreme heat during an exceptionally widespread and prolonged heatwave.

The highest temperature recorded during the heatwave was at Moomba in South Australia at a scorching 49.6C.

The figures released by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology show record temperatures were also set in two capital cities; Sydney with 45.8C and Hobart with 41.8C.

Most of Australia saw a dry summer - despite heavy rainfall on the east coast, compounded by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The intense heat brought with it numerous bush fires, the worst occurring in Tasmania where around 200 homes were destroyed.

Dick Whitaker, chief meteorologist with Australia's Weather Channel, points to a trend.

"Since 1910, summer temperatures have warmed by about 0.8C," he said.

"Most of this warming has occurred since 1950. Six of Australia's 10 hottest summers on record have come in the last 11 years," he added.

Australians are getting used to coping with hotter summers.

Some train stations in Sydney have been fitted with machines which spray cool mist onto commuters on particularly hot days.

And at the city's Taronga Zoo the sight of animals eating frozen treats is becoming quite common as the city sizzles.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology this summer follows a pattern of extremely hot summers in various parts of the world over the past few years.

A spokesperson said: "While the final numbers for the Southern Hemisphere summer will not be confirmed until mid-March, it was the hottest December on record for land areas of the Southern Hemisphere, followed by the hottest January.

"Large parts of southern Africa recorded their hottest January on record."

Hotter temperatures were also recorded in large parts of Argentina, Chile and Brazil, while temperatures in parts of Patagonia were more than 4C above normal in January.

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