The Bureau of Meteorology has revealed 2020 was Western Australia’s second-hottest year on record, trailing behind only 2019, and the fourth-hottest for the country as a whole.
Daytime temperatures in WA were 1.54 degrees Celsius above average and night-time temperatures were 0.95C above average.
Australia recorded its fourth-warmest year since records began in 1910, at 1.15C above average, but rainfall was 4 per cent higher than the norm.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) head of climate operations Andrew Watkins said the development of La Nina in September marked a shift from the severe heat and drought at the start of the year.
“After starting the year with fires in January … the hot, dry, dusty and smoky conditions … we ended wet and cool,” Dr Watkins said.
“December was actually cooler than November and it was strongly influenced by La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.
“La Nina has added a little bit of a cooling effect … overall it would have been a very warm year if we hadn’t headed into La Nina in the last quarter of the year.”
BOM senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said despite parts of Western Australia receiving good falls throughout the year, rainfall on the whole was slightly below average.
“Rainfall was below average in the west and above average in the northern and eastern regions mainly due to tropical systems at the start and end of the year,” Dr Bettio said.
“The South West Land Division had its seventh driest April to October on record and its driest since 2012.”
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La Nina has less of an impact on Western Australia during spring, but nonetheless a series of cold fronts drenched parts of the state’s south-west in November.
Perth had its wettest and third-coolest November on record, but the year as a whole reflected the city’s overall drying trend.
“Perth’s annual rainfall was about 600 millimetres, almost 10 per cent below average, with a record wet November offset by the fourth-driest winter and third-driest October on record,” Dr Bettio said.
“Both mean maximum and minimum temperatures for 2020 were half a degree or more above average for Perth.”
As La Nina continues its influence on the Pacific Ocean, the February-to-April outlook is favouring wetter-than-average conditions for much of Australia.
BOM is predicting a greater than 80 per cent chance for much of Queensland, and a greater than 65 per cent chance for large parts of New South Wales, the northern coast of Western Australia, the central Northern Territory and parts of northern and central Victoria.
Meanwhile, the mean maximum temperatures for the same period are likely to be higher than average for many coastal parts of the country including WA’s west coast.