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Historic June heat followed by record-breaking July rains in Queensland, Australia

Historic June heat followed by record-breaking July rains in Queensland, Australia

The Australian state of Queensland witnessed its warmest June on record this year, followed by unprecedented rainfall in early July, breaking long-standing monthly records within just a few days.

After experiencing the warmest June in the state’s recorded history, parts of outback Queensland have seen a sudden shift to record rainfall in the initial days of July, with some areas receiving 10 to 15 times their average monthly rainfall in a single 24-hour period.

This June saw temperatures 3.13 °C (5.6 °F) above average across Queensland, an anomaly significantly higher than usual. This shattered the previous Queensland June record anomaly of 2.49 °C (4.5 °F) set in 1996 by over half a degree Celsius.

The nation as a whole was 1.25 °C (2.3 °F) above average in June, making it the tenth warmest June on record. Interestingly, the only significant areas that experienced below-average temperatures in June were located in the southern and western half of Western Australia. In fact, Perth had its coldest June in half a century, with the temperature dropping to an average of -0.38 °C (-0.68 °F) below the standard June temperature.

In contrast, all other states had temperatures significantly above the long-term average for June. While some states hovered in near record-breaking territory – the Northern Territory, for instance, had its third warmest June on record – Queensland’s anomaly was in a league of its own.

According to a chart from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), which measures mean temperature deciles, central Queensland had a substantial section of highest-on-record temperatures, while no part of the state had average or below-average temperatures.

bom temperature decile ranges june 2023

However, these soaring temperatures were a characteristic of June. As July rolled in, many Queensland towns that had been baked in heat, just days before, experienced their coldest day of 2023.

For instance, Longreach, which endured a totally dry June with an average maximum of 27.9 °C (82.2 °F) — a significant 4 °C (7.2 °F) warmer than the monthly average of 23.9 °C (75 °F) — saw a dramatic change with the arrival of clouds and rain on Sunday, July 2. The mercury in Longreach peaked at just 12.7 °C (54.9 °F) — a staggering eleven degrees Celsius (19.8 degrees Fahrenheit) below the July average.

In addition, outback Queensland was drenched by exceptional rainfall, receiving as much as 15 times their average monthly rainfall in merely a few days. This surge was prompted by an atypical northwest cloud band that unleashed heavy rains across Western Queensland from Friday, June 30, 2023. The record-breaking deluge came hand in hand with a cold snap, causing temperatures to plummet drastically.

The towns of Mt Isa and Cloncurry bore the brunt of the unseasonable weather. Mt Isa airport recorded 78.4 mm (3.1 inches) of rainfall within a 24-hour period ending on Monday, July 3. This downpour was around 13 times their July average, thereby smashing single-day rain records that stood unchallenged for nearly 100 years.

Cloncurry, located to the east of Mt Isa, faced a similar, if not greater, deluge. The town was awash with about 64.4 mm (2.5 inches) of rain, a figure approximately 15 times greater than their July average of a mere 4.3 mm (0.17 inches), all within a 24-hour span ending Monday.

Another town, Birdsville, experienced its heaviest July rainfall since 1998, with a notable 15.8 mm (0.62 inches) of rain.

Even though rainfall persists in parts of eastern and southern Queensland as of Tuesday, July 4, a general drying trend is anticipated across the state as the week unfolds.

References:

1 Queensland’s warmest June by a huge margin – Weatherzone – July 3, 2023

2 Rare July rain soaks far Western Queensland – Weatherzone – July 3, 2023

Featured image credit: BOM

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