2018 was officially the hottest year on record for much of the Hunter Valley, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement released Thursday.
Cessnock (25.5C) and Scone (26.4C) recorded their highest annual average maximum temperatures while Maitland Airport’s mean temperature of 25.3C was 0.8 degrees warmer than the long-term average recorded at Maitland Visitor Centre between 1997 and 2016.
On top of the high temperatures, Maitland also recorded just 761mm of rain across the year compared to an annual average of 821.3mm recorded at the visitor’s centre.
To put that in perspective, in the Pasha Bulka storm of 2007, 392.3mm of rain fell in Maitland in just one day – more than Scone received in all of 2018.
And of Maitland’s total rainfall last year, 14.6 per cent was recorded in a single day on March 22. In July, just 1.2mm of rain was recorded across the whole month.
All of the Hunter experienced below average rainfall and higher than average temperatures with the exception of Nelson Bay, where the annual average was 0.1 degrees cooler than normal.
But the warm, dry conditions weren’t exclusive to the Hunter – NSW also had its hottest year on record.
"When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above-average day and night-time temperatures," Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Lynette Bettio said.
"It was a tough year for people dealing with the drought, and like the rest of the country, the bureau hopes 2019 will bring some rain relief for those being impacted by the dry conditions.”
The hottest day of 2018 for Maitland was January 7 when the mercury reached 43.7C – slightly less than two degrees cooler than the warmest day on record of 45.6C on February 11, 2017.
There were 30 days where the temperature broke 35C and four 40C plus days in 2018. The temperature also failed to drop below 20 degrees on 20 occasions.
The average minimum temperature of 11.8C was on par with the long-term mean of 11.9C recorded at the old visitor’s centre station, while the coolest temperature was -2.7 degrees on July 22.
The bureau has predicted higher than average temperatures until at least March but expects close to median average rainfall in that time.
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