Weather goes in cycles

March 24, 2017

The current long warm to hot spell during this March is certainly unusual, not only in north-east Victoria but over nearly all of the state and also in the Riverina. Melbourne has had a record number of successive days of maximum temperatures not falling below 23°C, breaking the previous records for March 1974 and 1989.

On top of last year’s near record hot March at Wangaratta and Benalla it will be the hottest March at each in 114 years of records.

The prolonged hot spell is a prelude to significant rainfall in our region. In addition sea surface temperatures have been well above normal, not only in the Tasman Sea but also right across the South Pacific and in ocean areas just south of Tasmania.

Easterly winds have prevailed on most days since February 26, bringing humid air as well resulting in scattered thunderstorms mainly on the ranges.

In 1882 there was heavy rain in north-east Victoria near the end of March and in early April.

In 1893 there was heavy rain at the end of March and again near mid April and at the end of May 1893.

March of 1951 and 1952 were considerably hotter than normal in Wangaratta, while 1951 was wetter than average from late April up to October and 1952 saw above average rainfall from mid-April up to early December. The summer of 1951-52 was abnormally hot in inland NSW and Queensland — which also happened last summer.

Hobart has just completed its hottest two consecutive days for March since 1891 and once again there was heavy rain in our region during early April of 1891.

— Peter Nelson, retired CSIRO weather officer, Benalla

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