Australia: July - Record heat across multiple states and territories


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A large portion of northern and central Australia just experienced its warmest July on record in terms of maximum temperatures.

Towns and communities from the Pilbara in WA across to the Central Coast of Queensland recorded average daytime temperatures that were a whopping 2-4 degrees warmer than usual during July.

Unseasonably hot days in northern and central Australia this month have been driven by abnormally high pressure surrounding Australia's tropics and below-average sea surface temperatures to the country's northwest. 

These features both hindered the amount of moisture travelling over northern Australia this month, reducing the amount of cloud and rain and allowing heat to build without much opposition. 

Of particular note was the record heat experienced in northern WA this month, as this region is considered to be Australia's heat farm. The hot air that builds up here will inevitably sweep across the rest of the nation ahead of a cold front or low pressure trough. 

One such scenario saw numerous heat records tumble at the end of last week, starting with the hottest July day on record in Roebourne (35C), northern WA on Friday followed by the highest July temperature in more than 150 years of records in Sydney (26.5C) on Sunday.

Locations in northern WA that set new July maximum temperature records this month in included Learmonth (26.4C), Telfer (27.6C) and Wittenoom (27.6C) in the Pilbara District and Halls Creek (30.2C) and Kununurra (32.9C) in the Kimberley.

In the NT, new maximum temperature records were set this month from Alice Springs (24C) in the south to Jabiru (33.7C) in the north. Impressively, the average maximum temperature this month was four degrees warmer than usual in Alice Springs. Darwin will most likely round out the month with an average maximum temperature of 32.6 degrees, matching the record from 2010.

Further east, new July maximum temperature records were also set in Queensland's Oakey (21C), Cunnamulla (22C), Longreach (27C) and Rockhampton (26C) and Bathurst (13.9C) and Port Macquarie (20C) in NSW.

Looking ahead, there are no strong signs that the current weather patterns affecting Australia will change in the coming months. As a result, above-average maximum temperatures are favoured as the most likely scenario for most of the country during the final month of winter and into early spring. 

The average maximum temperature figures quoted in this article are based on the observed temperatures up to 9am today and the forecast maximum temperature for today.

- Brett Dutschke, Weatherzone