Warm start to winter ahead as May temperatures set record

Sydney is all but certain to smash long-term temperature records for May, with the start of winter also likely to see unusually warm weather.

The city is expecting another day of temperatures close to 7 degrees above average for the month, with a top of 26 degrees forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology for Friday.

So far this month, maximums have been running at an average of 23 degrees, ahead of the 22.7-degree record set in 1958.

“The current average is the warmest on record and all the temperatures for the next week are above that record,” said Ben Domensino, a senior meteorologist with Weatherzone. “It’s just a matter of how much we will beat it.”

Most sunny conditions are forecast for the weekend, with tops of 25 and 24 predicted for Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Sea temperatures are about 23 degrees off Sydney, about 3 degrees above normal for this time of year, Mr Domensino said.

Beachy weather to continue a while longer. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Beachy weather to continue a while longer. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

“People in the cities are really benefiting from the warm and dry weather,” he said.

Farmers, though, will be looking for a change as the warm conditions continue to dry the soil.

Fire crews, meanwhile, are making the most of the opportunity to make up on targets for hazard reduction burns, with another busy weekend of controlled blazes planned.

Some of the smoke is already finding its way into the Sydney basin. St Marys, in Sydney’s west, reported hazardous levels of air pollution early on Friday with conditions still “very poor” at 9am, according to the government’s air quality index.

An official in the Office of Environment and Heritage said it was not uncommon for small regions to suffer from high levels of smoke from nearby burning. The smoke should disperse throughout the morning, he said.

The source of the exceptional warmth is the series of strong blocking high-pressure systems in the Tasman, which are pushing cold fronts further south than usual. 

A couple of stronger cold fronts may disrupt the warmth but only briefly with the start of June also likely to be warmer than normal.

“The early winter heat is likely to keep going,” Mr Domensino said.

Records fall

Record keepers will be busy updating the data for Sydney and other parts of south-eastern Australia, with a slew of temperature highs to be updated.

Before this year, the city had just 21 days of 25 degrees or warmer weather in the second half of May, with no more than two in any year, according to Weatherzone.

Yesterday was the fourth for this year, with four more expected included today.

Next Tuesday is seen as the best chance to set a late-season record, with 28 degrees the current high mark set in 1994 and 27 degrees currently forecast.

The city should also double its average number of days above 20 degrees. A typical May over the past 155 years would have had about 12.5 such days.

Sydney's tally, including today will make it 22, with at least six more to come, according to Bureau of Meteorology forecasts.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.