Despite some popular opinion this has not quite been Geelong’s driest January. The Weather Station at Mt Duneed has only been operating since 1983 and it has certainly been the driest one since then. Only 0.4 mm was recorded this time, but in 1878 the North Geelong station received no January rain at all. So it is true to say this has been Geelong’s driest January since 1878 – a period of 131 years. Clifton Springs, Leopold North, Point Lonsdale and the You Yangs received no rain this month, but Lavers Hill with 37mm (average 80mm) was by far the wettest.
Two other Januarys have only had one millimetre: 1891 and 1898, and three others have received only 2mm: 1930, 1957 and 1964. In every one of those cases rainfall returned to average for most months later in the year and I am optimistically expecting that to happen again this year.
Desperately low falls were recorded everywhere across the region, in contrast to most of the northern half of the continent. Rainfalls generally were in the lowest 5% of historical events and only in the southern Otways did they reach at least 20% of average.
The water catchments are dwindling below 26% and continue to decline.
Neither has this been our hottest January, despite a record-breaking 45.3C being measured on the 29th to make it our hottest January day as well as our hottest day ever recorded, surpassing the 44.8C experienced in 2003. Up until the middle of the month temperatures overall were 2 degrees below the long-term average. The heat wave of the last fortnight resulted in 8 days over 30 degrees C (normally 5), including 3 consecutive days over 43 degrees (28th to 30th) which was the worst heatwave since January 1908 when there were 4 consecutive days over 43 degrees).
Strangely, Geelong’s new record minimum temperature for January (4.5 degrees) was recorded on the morning of the 3rd. So in this one month we have broken our highest as well as our lowest January temperature records.
The figures reveal a mean Geelong January temperature this year of 19.1 degrees, just 0.4 degree over the long-term normal. Mean daily minimum was 11.3C (compared to 12.9 normal) and mean maximum 26.7C (compared to 24.2 normal).
There were 4 very windy days with maximum gusts over 60kph, and the stromgest gust was 81kph at Mt Duneed on the 22nd.