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    Extreme heat breaks records
    Saturday, 31 December 2005
    by Grant Burgess & Tim Grugeon

    The highest official temperature for the Hunter Region was recorded today. Singleton recorded a maximum temperature of 45.9C, which is 0.3C higher then the highest accepted temperature (45.6C)  recorded in Jerrys Plains on Christmas day in 1957. Temperatures were in the low to mid 40's throughout much of the Hunter, with the highest temperatures being recorded in middle or lower parts of the Hunter Region.

    Location Sunday
    1/1/2006
    Jan Record Date Recorded Overall Record Date Recorded Years of Data
    Berry Park (Morpeth) * 44.2 43.4 15/01/2001 44.1 21/02/2004 11
    Cessnock (Nulkaba) 44.1 44.0 15/01/2001 44.4 21/02/2004 27
    Cessnock Airport AWS 43.4 43.4 15/01/2001 44.0 21/02/2004 13
    Lostock Dam 40.8 42.4 23/01/2001 42.5 21/02/2004 33
    Jerrys Plains ~ 44.4 7/01/1964 45.6 25/12/1957 44
    Maitland 43.4 43.4 30/01/2003 44.5 21/02/2004 8
    Murrurundi 36.5 40.2 27/01/1981 40.6 10/02/1983  
    Nobby's Signal Station 41.4 40.8 7/01/1964 42.0 23/12/1990 48
    Newcastle Uni 43.2 42.1 30/01/2003 43.1 21/02/2004 6
    Raymond Terrace * 44.5 42.8 15/01/2001 44.0 21/02/2004 8
    Scone** 40.8 42.5 24/01/2001 43.4 19/11/1968 41
    Singleton STP 45.9 43.5 14/01/2005 44.8 1/12/2004 2
    Tocal 44.0 43.7 15/01/2001 44.6 21/02/2004 31
    Williamtown 44.4 44.1 7/01/1964 44.1 7/01/1964 55

    * Not a Bureau of Meteorology station
    ** Records taken from Scone SCS and Scone Airport AWS.

    Summary of the day

    • The Hunter experienced it's highest ever temperature with 45.9C being recorded at Singleton. The previous high of  45.6C was held by Jerrys Plains on 25/12/1957. Unfortunately this station has not reported temperatures for the last 2 weeks.
       

    • The temperature rose consistently throughout the day. The temperature did not peak until after 3pm.
       

    • The typical ENE seabreeze did not blow on the coast in Newcastle. The ENE seabreeze blew in the Port Stephens area and as a result Nelson Bay recorded a maximum temperature of only 30.6C. This was a significant contrast to the 44.4C that was recorded at Williamtown.
       

    • A southerly change reached the Hunter late evening with squally winds. The temperature dropped more then 10C within the first hour once the change had pasted through the region.
       

    • Relative humidity was mostly between 10 - 25% by the afternoon.
       

    • Bushfires plagued some areas. Homes were lost on the Central Coast.

    Meteorological conditions that caused the heat

    • A weak high pressure cell that was lying over NE NSW/SE Qld directed hot NW winds over much of NSW. An approaching trough line linked to a low pressure system was approaching from the SW. This created a significant pressure gradient and therefore the winds became fresh to strong in the Lower Hunter.
       

    • The 1000 - 500hpa thicknesses across the interior and the Hunter Region was 5800m, indicating a very hot air mass. Also, the 850hpa (~1500m) temperature was 23 - 26C.
       

    • Cloudless skies allowed for rapid heating. At most locations throughout the Hunter, the cloud cover was less then 15% for most of the day.
       

    • The usual afternoon seabreezes did not develop and therefore the temperature continued to rise throughout the afternoon.

    Historical comparisons

    Today's heatwave is comparable to some of the heatwaves that occurred on the following dates within the Hunter Region.

    12 - 14 January 1939
    4 January 1942
    25 January 1952
    25 & 29 December 1957
    7 January 1964
    19 November 1968
    28 November 1980
    25 November 1982
    9 & 17 February 1983
    23 December 1990
    26 & 27 November 1997
    15 January 2001
    21 February 2004
    1 December 2004

    Even though the 45.9C recorded in Singleton is now officially the highest temperature ever recorded in the Hunter, it is more then possible that it has been hotter in the past. Due to the poor set of climatic records in the Hunter, daily observations that were made more then 50 years ago are hard to find and some of these original records have been lost.

    According to local newspaper articles of January 1939, a maximum temperature of 46.4C at Maitland West (now Rutherford) was recorded on the 14th. A temperature of 47.2C was also recorded on the same day at Jerrys Plains. However, unlike the Maitland West station which used a standard Stevenson Screen, the Jerrys Plains station may have been using Glaisher stand. Original climatic records of the 46.4C and the 47.2C are not available for verification.

     

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    Friday, 28 July 2017
    © 2017 Tim Grugeon