Anglers on Lake Illawarra as the region enjoyed beautiful weather on Tuesday. Hot temperatures are expected this summer. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIThebrief evening thunderstorm that rolled through the Illawarra on Monday could be a sign of things to come, weather forecasters say.
The storm rounds out a year of above-average rainfall and temperatures slightly higher than the norm across the region.
Brett Dutschke, a meteorologist with Fairfax Media’s Weatherzone, said overall temperatures at Albion Park were about half a degree warmer than the average in 2014, making it the warmest of the last 16 years.
Daytime maximums at the inland weather station averaged 22.7 degrees, while overnight lows hovered around 12.0 degrees. The region’s highest maximum was recorded on November 1, when the mercury hit 35.4 degrees inland and 34.2 at Bellambi Point.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 1113 millimetres of rain had fallen at Albion Park, comfortably higher than the long-term annual average of 927 millimetres, with just a couple of millimetres more recorded on the coast.
“It’s not as wet as last year, but it is the second wettest of the past 16 years [at Albion Park],” he said.
Up to 158 millimetres was dumped on parts of the region during the year’s wettest day – the 24 hours to 9am on March 25 – with Bulli and Berry the hardest hit by localised flooding.
Mr Dutschke predicted rainfall would be near or just below average during the start of 2015 and recent dry periods were likely to continue.
“It should be hotter than average for the rest of summer and there’s a good chance the start to autumn will be warmer than average also,” he said. “It looks like the dry spells will be fairly lengthy, although there’ll be the occasional heavy downpour, mainly with a short burst of rain and storms, but it’s unlikely we’re going to get long-lasting rain.”
Mr Dutschke said a trend towards a weak El Nino was likely to dictate the 2015 forecast.
“We’ve still got relatively warm waters along the coast, so the combination of the two should lead to warmer and drier than average weather.”
Nationally, the Bureau of Meteorology said 2014 temperatures were on track to be the warmest on record.
“Temperatures were persistently warm throughout the year, with several significant heatwaves and below-average rainfall occurring, particularly in the north-east of the state,” bureau spokesman Chris Webb said.
The organisation’s annual climate statement is expected to be released next week.
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