Australia’s wild summer has seen some strangely unseasonable weather, with experts saying the country’s climate variability has become more dramatic than ever.
In 2017, we’ve witnessed blistering heatwaves across the nation, states dealing with bushfires, floods and even snow and cyclones – all in the space of two months.
And according to experts, Australia’s vulnerability to extreme weather events is only worsening as a result of climate change.
“Any individual incident, such as the NSW bushfires, is not directly linked to climate change, but the whole system has seemed to change,” Flinders University environment lecturer Dr Cacilia Ewenz told The New Daily.
“The cycle is much faster and is much larger now than ever, so we get those 40C days and then 20C the next day.
“Climatologists who deal with the day-to-day data see a change, that this variation will become stronger. There’s more energy in the atmosphere.
“It’s like a pendulum, when you put more energy in, it has a larger effect and variation. This is with a pendulum and the same goes with the climate. If we put more energy in so the variation will get larger.”
Ms Ewenz, who has a PhD in meteorology, said we are seeing significant changes in temperatures one week to the next because of rapid shifts in high and low pressure systems around the country.
“What makes the difference at the moment is we get all these cold fronts from the southern ocean coming through, which brings the cold air and then the next thing – in the same week and cycle – we get the high pressure cells moving a little bit closer and we get the hot weather from the north,” she said.
Victoria and NSW cop snow, heatwave subsides
New South Wales residents recovering from more than 100 bushfires across the state last week have been treated to an unseasonable dusting of snow.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Victoria’s Mt Hotham and NSW’s alpine regions including Thredbo and Perisher copped “quite substantial” February snow fall with 5-10cm.
“It’s pretty unusual,” BoM forecaster Dean Stewart told The New Daily. “Sometimes we get it in the summer months but most of the time it occurs in December, sometimes January, but it’s rarer to get it in February.
“It’s not unprecedented, but it is fairly rare this time of the year and for it to actually settle on the ground.”
NSW forecaster Andrew Haigh explained the reason we see big contrasts in temperature from one state to the next at the end of summer is due of sweeping cold fronts that close out the season.
“Sometimes towards the end of summer we tend to get some swings of temperature when we have cold fronts come through,” he told The New Daily.
“Basically a cool air mass replaces the warm air mass and that leads to quite big contrasts in temperature between one area and the other even between one day and the next.”
Snow about today… chilly too. Summer set for big comeback later this week…. pic.twitter.com/dMkXg3aHgG
— Thredbo (@ThredboResort) February 19, 2017
Heatwave temperatures have receded across NSW, with temperatures in Sydney dropping to 27C and showers on Tuesday and Wednesday, before driving up to 30C on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Melburnians can expect a cool 23C on Tuesday, which will increase to low-to-mid 30s on Wednesday.
Hot and windy conditions are predicted until a late south-westerly change during Thursday evening for mild temperatures for the rest of the week.
Category one cyclone to hit NT, Queensland
Northern Territorians and Queenslanders are bracing for Australia’s latest wild weather after Tropical Cyclone Alfred formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Forecasters say the category one cyclone, currently off the coast north of Borroloola, is tracking south-east and should weaken before hitting land on Tuesday.
Winds up to 100km/h and heavy rainfall which may lead to flooding is possible in communities between Port Roper and the NT-Queensland border.
Sustained gusts may develop near coastal and island communities, including Groote Eylandt later on Monday, as the cyclone moves closer to the coast, the BoM says.
— BOM Australia (@BOM_au) February 20, 2017
“Gales may extend along the Queensland coast west of Mornington Island early on Tuesday if the system takes a more easterly track,” its warning read.
“Large waves may produce minor flooding along low lying coastal areas.”
Cyclone Alfred is expected to make landfall somewhere between Borroloola and the NT/Queensland border.