Sydney and parts of south-eastern Australia are set for a scorching start to spring, with the New South Wales capital expected to top 29C on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of warm and gusty winds across the southern ranges of NSW, and dust storms in parts of South Australia on Wednesday and Thursday.
Temperatures for most of the country are forecast to be warmer than average for the next fortnight.
The outlook follows Western Australia’s warmest winter on record, with maximum temperatures reaching a record 2.38C above average.
Cities and towns across WA faced their hottest winter days yet in late August, with Broome recording 38.9C and Port Headland recording 39.9C – well above previous records.
Nationally, the winter of 2020 was the sixth hottest on record, coming in at 1.15C above average, with rainfall below average across the country.
But despite warm spring temperatures in the coming weeks, the country isn’t expected to break further heat records in 2020, according to Blair Trewin at the Bureau of Meteorology.
“When we look at annual temperatures, 2020 is running somewhat cooler than last year, and in Australia it’s highly unlikely we’ll see more records fall for the rest of the year.”
Trewin said an expected La Niña event, in which cooler ocean temperatures drive rainfall across Australia, had brought down temperature expectations.
“When we look at the outlook for the rest of the year, it’s quite likely we’ll see a La Niña event develop in the Pacific in the spring, which means the chances for above-average rainfall for the rest of the year are quite high.”
Nonetheless winter was a drier season than normal, with rainfall below average for much of southern Australia and long-term rainfall deficits persisting across the country.
Records were broken for coldest days, with parts of South Australia and Tasmania recording their lowest minimum temperatures on record – including -14.2C at Liawenee in early August.
Launceston faced its most significant snowfall since 1921 but Trewin said it wasn’t a reflection of a change in wider trends.
“The actual areas that receive the most warmth moves around from year to year, depending on where weather systems are in individual seasons, but the overall trend is certainly upwards everywhere.”
NSW faced its wettest and coldest winter since 2016, with cold fronts in July and August bringing substantial snow to mountains across the state.