THERE’S only one word appropriate to describe Ballarat’s weather in 2018 - extreme.
From temperatures in the 40s, down to almost freezing, and even a couple of new records, there’s been plenty for local weather boffins to get excited about.
Twice last year Ballarat set new records. The first record came on April 11 when we reached 32.2 degrees, the hottest day ever recorded in April.
But then the other extreme - one which was no doubt less popular - happened on July 11 when the mercury only climbed to 4.2 degrees, officially the coldest July day in Ballarat ever, but not quite the coldest day ever which was May 31, 1977 when the city only reached 3.2 degrees.
Our coldest night for the year was -3.8 which happened on August 29, again well off records with our coldest ever reading of -6 coming in July 1982.
Ballarat’s warmest day came all the way back on January 19 when the temperature climbed to 40.5 but it proved to be the only time we saw 40 registered for the year, although we came close on January 6 when we reached 39.7 degrees.
In a crazy end to the year, Ballarat saw more than 100mm of rain in December, more than double the usual amount of 49.9mm.
But overall the year was dryer than average with just 552mm falling, well down on the annual rainfall of 687mm.
Only three times throughout the year did the rainfall exceed the monthly average. Those months were May (73.8mm), July (68.8mm) and December. The driest month was February where just 6mm fell.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that this weather pattern was becoming more frequent with rainfall only exceeding the average annual amount three times in the last 10 years.
“The last time we had above average rain was in 2016, but that year we did see some exceptional rain in the first part of spring,” Senior Forecaster Rod Dickson said.
“That year, we saw 178mm in September which was the highest on record.
“Broadly speaking, you could say that as a result of climate change as the temperatures get warmer, the rainfall has decreased.”
Statistically that fact was backed up by the fact that only once throughout the year did Ballarat’s monthly average fall below the annual figure.
In August, the average temperature was 11.5 degrees, when the usual temperature is 11.6 degrees. May averaged exactly the long-term average but every month proved to be warmer than usual.
January, April and December all ended up averaging more than three degrees above the norm while October was also two degrees warmer.
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a slightly better than even money chance that central Victoria will experience a dry last couple of months of summer, but a predicted El Nino is not having the effect on the atmosphere just yet.
Mr Dickson said warmer sea surface temperatures off the east coast and tropical moisture from Queensland have produced the recent rain which saw December record a more than 100mm for the first time since 2004.
He said while temperature thresholds pointed to an El Nino event, atmospheric conditions had yet to respond, but could develop more later in the season.
“In terms of rainfall outlook, there’s a slightly dryer trend in the outlook period until the end of summer,” he said. “At this stage though, there’s not really a strong signal across Victoria.”
One thing that can be guaranteed is Ballarat will have a dry start to the year with Friday expected to be the hottest day with a predicted top of 37.
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