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Victor Szwed

The year finished with a fairly cool period and 2021 also started relatively cool to mild. Summer usually hits hard later in January as children go back to school and into February and March.

While the “official” Summer period is December to February, the hotter conditions usually start later and do not ease until late March with the Autumn Equinox around 22nd March when the days and nights are of equal duration and daylight then starts to fall below 12 hours.

Rainfall for 2020 totalled 932mm, above the long term average of 877mm and well over the 2019 total of 758mm. October was wet but November and December were drier than average. 2021 has also started fairly dry.

Rainfall in 2020 (blue) was above the long term average (orange) and well above the rainfall recorded in 2019 (grey).

What can we expect for the coming months? The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) continues to advise that La Nina conditions are occurring. They expect these conditions to dissipate by Autumn, returning closer to normal. Over the next 3 months northern portions of Australia are expected to have wetter than normal conditions and near-average conditions are expected for southern areas including Victoria.

We are currently in our drier season and should not expect significant rainfalls other than the somewhat unpredictable summer storms, if they come. January, February and March typically average around 45mm of rain. We should carefully water our gardens in the evenings or early mornings and add mulch where we can. There has been massive growth of grasses and other vegetation which has been drying off with fire risks increasing significantly.

The CSIRO and BOM prepare a State of the Climate Report for Australia every two years. Their recently released report advises that Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees (plus or minus 0.24 degrees) since records began in 1910. Much of this has been in the past 2 to 3 decades. This has lead to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.

Rainfall in southeast Australia has decreased around 12 per cent in the April to October period since the late 1990’s with a consequent decrease in stream-flows.

The BOM also advises that there has been an increase in extreme fire weather and the length of the fire season across large parts of the country, particularly in southern Australia. This comes as no surprise with the extreme events we saw in January last year and other extreme events during the past decade or so.

Reductions in global fossil fuel emissions in 2020 resulting from Covid-19 impacts will have a negligible impact in terms of climate change as atmospheric CO2 continues to rise. Oceans are also warming and experiencing acidification.

Want to read more from the report? Go to the BOM web site: