A year of weather extremes for the Illawarra

The Illawarra's weather was anything but average in 2013, with bushfires, freak tornadoes and soaring temperatures making it a memorable year in meteorology.

Sweltering summer weather in January brought with it the first major bushfire, with a blaze at Deans Gap near Sussex Inlet destroying thousands of hectares.

The risk of fire didn't abate for most of the season, with temperatures reaching more than 45 degrees in Kiama, Bellambi, Nowra and Albion Park on January 18.

A new record was set at Albion Park when the mercury peaked at 45.8 degrees.

As February drew to a close the region experienced an event on the other end of the weather spectrum as a family of four tornadoes spun through Kiama, Albion Park, Jamberoo and Gerroa.

Kiama storm. Picture DAVE TEASE

They left a trail of destruction, ripping roofs from several houses overlooking Bombo Beach and uprooting trees through kilometres of bushland at Gerroa.

Winter hit and so did the rain, with several heavy rain and wind warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology over the cooler months.

But the reprieve from the heat didn't last long, as a hot spring led to the bushfire season starting months earlier than normal.

The past October was the warmest in the Illawarra since records began at Bellambi in 1997 and Albion Park in 1999, with Bellambi experiencing an average temperature almost two degrees above the long-term average and well below average rainfall.

Fires raged across the state for days, including one at Balmoral in the Southern Highlands that burnt out more than 15,600 hectares.

Southern Highlands bushfire. Picture PETER DAVIS

But as the year wraps up, its final hours should be perfect for end-of-year celebrations with morning cloud clearing for a sunny afternoon.

Jake Phillips from the Bureau of Meteorology said that though cloud would return about 8pm tonight, it shouldn't affect the ability to see fireworks.

"We're not expecting any rain, further south past Nowra there will be a bit of drizzle, but through Wollongong things should be generally remaining OK."

New Year's Day should be warm and clear with temperatures on the coast expected to hit the high 20s.

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