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31 May 2016
Last year was Australia’s fifth-warmest on record, with the national mean temperature 0.83 degrees above the 1961-90 average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The bureau’s Annual Climate Report lays much of the blame on the strong El Nino, which started in May and intensified to become one of the strongest on record.
The year produced the third-driest September on record, and all capital cities recorded warmer-than-average maximum temperatures. Averages in Queensland, Victoria, SA and NSW were among the 10 warmest on record.
National rainfall was 5% below the 1961-90 average at 443.7mm, but some areas were drier than others, with long-term drought continuing in Queensland.
Worldwide, sea surface temperatures set a new record at 0.6 degrees above average, partly driven by record warmth in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
A record autumn hot spell hit large parts of northern and central Australia during March, and an east-coast low in April led to flooding in the Sydney, Hunter and NSW Central Coast regions.
A cold burst over southeast Australia from July 11-17 brought snow to Queensland’s Great Dividing Range.
Significant bushfires occurred in SA in January, Victoria and SA in October, WA and SA in November, and Victoria in late December.
Seven tropical cyclones occurred last year: Lam, Marcia, Olwyn, Nathan, Ikola, Quang and Racquel. Category 5 Marcia was the strongest at landfall, near Yeppoon.
A tornado caused significant damage in the southern suburbs of Sydney on December 16.
Australian temperatures have warmed by about one degree since 1950.
The World Meteorological Organisation rates last year as the warmest on record globally.
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