Records fall as Queensland swelters through hottest year ever
QUEENSLANDERS sweltered through our hottest ever year in 2017, our warmest ever winter, and temperatures from Brisbane to Birdsville that scorched holes in the record books.
Remarkably, the typical Queensland day peaked at 31.53C - the average daytime maximum temperature beating the previous record of 31.4C, set in 2013.
The state's average temperature of 24.63C for the year was the hottest since records began, beating the previous record of 24.48C in 2005.
Brisbane's warmest winter ever last year - an average of 23.51C from June to August - also added to the state's overall heat, which climatologists labelled an "interesting year".
The Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Climate Summary, released today, has highlighted the nation's extreme weather events in the past 12 months.
Brisbane had its equal-warmest year on record - tied with 2016 - with an average maximum temperature of 27.3C and an average minimum temperature of 17.1C.
Nationwide, the country sweated through its third-warmest year on record, with an average of 21.8C - 0.95C warmer than the long-term average.
The only significant cyclone to make landfall last year, Category 4 Cyclone Debbie, caused the strongest recorded wind gust in Queensland (263km/h at Hamilton Island) and the wettest day of the year (635mm at Mount Jukes).
However, rainfall was below average for central and western Queensland, with some areas near the Northern Territory border experiencing severe rainfall deficiencies.
BoM's head of climate monitoring Dr Karl Braganza said that several notable anomalies occurred in Queensland - including the equal-warmest year on record for the southeast.
"Queensland was one of the warmer parts of the country in 2017 and ... daytime maximum temperatures were very warm," he said.
"Over the winter period, daytime maximum temperatures reached record warmth across the southeast, southern interior and northwest Queensland and it was also extremely warm in February. Thargomindah reached a Queensland February record of 47.2C."
Dr Braganza described Brisbane's weather in particular as "interesting" and "likely to be in the warmest five years on record for many maximum and mean overall temperatures".
"We saw the warmest January/ March on record and record warm days/ nights in September. It was also the wettest March on record for many locations across the Brisbane area," he said.
The climate report also highlighted prolonged warm ocean temperatures around the Great Barrier Reef, which caused unprecedented coral bleaching during March for the second consecutive year.
"(It's) the only incidence of back-to-back bleaching on record," Dr Braganza said.
It comes as authorities warn Queenslanders to be vigilant of the hot temperatures forecast across the state this week.
Queensland Ambulance Service clinical director Tony Hucker said that heat-related illness could become life-threatening.
"Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness that presents with symptoms similar to heat exhaustion, but which may also include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin, but possible some clamminess; a rapid pulse; headache and confusion," he said.
Acting Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman said that recent heatwave conditions in southern states provided a timely reminder for Queenslanders to stay safe in the heat.
"We want everyone to enjoy the summer holidays, so it's important everyone is aware of the risks associated with warm weather," Ms Fentiman said.
"The elderly, babies and young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and those who suffer pre-existing medical conditions or take certain medications are most at-risk of heat-related illness.
"Physically active people, including those working outdoors and exposed to the elements, should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of illness."