It was a summer of extremes, from January’s catastrophic fire danger and hottest day on record to torrential rain and the family of destructive tornados that ripped through the region’s south.
And while the final days of the season may have felt cool, the experts say we’ve just experienced the hottest Australian summer on record.
Bureau of Meteorology data, released today, shows the average summer temperature across the nation was 28.6 degrees - 1.1 degrees above normal and exceeding the previous 1997-98 record by more than 0.1 degrees.
A new average maximum temperature record was set at 35.7 degrees - 1.4 degrees above normal and 0.2 degrees above the summer 1982-83 record.
The highest temperatures were in the first three weeks of January, when a run of scorching days caused Illawarra cafes to close, weekend sports to be cancelled and left many of the region’s vulnerable suffering heat stroke.
The highest temperature recorded was at South Australian town Moomba, at 49.6 degrees.
Of 112 BOM weather stations nationwide, 14 had their hottest day on record over summer.
That included the stations at Kiama and Albion Park, where temperatures over 45 degrees on January 18 broke the previous records set on New Year’s Day 2006.
The highest temperature at Bellambi was 42.4, 1.3 degrees lower than the record.
Records were also broken for the number of consecutive days with average maximum temperatures over 39 degrees nationwide.
The run of seven days between January 2-8 almost doubled the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973.
It was a dry summer for most of Australia with national rainfall was at its lowest since 2004-05.
However, there was plenty of heavy rain on the country’s east coast, including the Illawarra.
Christmas Day was the region's wettest in December and heavy showers at the end of January pushed up monthly totals.
Last Sunday, the day Kiama was hit by wild tornados, had the highest rainfall for February.
The bureau says this summer’s heat follows a pattern of extremely hot summers in various parts of the world over the past few years.
While the final numbers for the Southern Hemisphere summer will not be confirmed until mid-March, it was the hottest December on record for land areas of the Southern Hemisphere, followed by the hottest January.
Large parts of southern Africa recorded their hottest January on record.
Hotter temperatures were also recorded in large parts of Argentina, Chile and Brazil, while temperatures in parts of Patagonia were more than 4°C above normal in January.
Temperatures and rainfall
- Average max temp: 23.5
- Highest temp: 30.6 (Dec 20)
- Total rainfall: 34.2mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 14.8mm (Dec 25)
- Average max temp: 25.7
- Highest temp: 42.4 (Jan 18)
- Total rainfall: 241mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 139mm (Jan 28)
- Average max temp: 23.7
- Highest temp: 26.1 (Feb 7)
- Total rainfall: 177.8mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 49.2mm (Feb 24)
- Average max temp: 25.7
- Highest temp: 37.9 (Dec 1)
- Total rainfall: 30.2mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 14.2mm (Dec 25)
- Average max temp: 27.6
- Highest temp: 45.8 (Jan 18)
- Total rainfall: 167.2mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 122mm (Jan 29)
- Average max temp: 25.5
- Highest temp: 28.9 (Feb 7)
- Total rainfall: 168mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 96mm (Feb 24)
- Average max temp: 23.6
- Highest temp: 32 (Dec 1)
- Total rainfall: 53.8mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 26.6m (Dec 25)
- Average max temp: 25.8
- Highest temp: 45 (Jan 18)
- Total rainfall: 170.8mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 135mm (Jan 29)
- Average max temp: 23.9
- Highest temp: 26.8 (Feb 21)
- Total rainfall: 153.2mm
- Highest daily rainfall: 71.8 (Feb 24)