TAMWORTH officially sweltered through its hottest year on record in 2018.
As the city welcomes January 1 on another hot and dry day, with temperatures expected to climb to the mid-30s for the first week of the new year, meteorologists gave its predecessor a historic benchmark for heat.
Tamworth’s hottest year on record was compounded by the fact it was also the city’s fourth-driest in the past 140 years.
It mightn’t come as much surprise to locals in a year when weather ravished the region, which saw dam levels dwindle, much countryside become parched and, in recent days, stifling hot nights offer no respite.
There’s a top temperature of 35 degrees forecast for New Year’s Day, but weather bureaus have predicted the mercury will make its way to 39 by Sunday.
The heat will, more than likely, hang around through January and a drier-than-average month over the horizon.
Weatherzone senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke crunched the numbers for The Leader and found 2018 was truly off the charts.
“Temperature records go back 62 years, and 2018 will probably beat 2014 as the hottest on record,” Mr Dutschke said.
“That is combining nights’ and days’ average temperatures.”
The average maximum daytime temperature for Tamworth throughout the entire year was 26.7 degrees.
The figure is a staggering 1.9 degrees above the long-term average of 24.8 degrees.
Nights in Tamworth got down to an average of 10.1 degrees, only 0.3 degrees higher than the norm.
These figures combined to make the 2018 overall average temperature in Tamworth 18.4 degrees; the highest on record for the city and 1.1 degrees greater than the 62-year mean.
The stats spell out a sweltering year for the city, which saw records broken even in the colder seasons.
“July’s days were almost 2.5 degrees above the normal,” Mr Dutschke said.
“So July’s days were the warmest in at least 20 years.
“October nights were the warmest in at least 20 years and they were 2 degrees above the norm.”
It caps off a hot period in Tamworth’s history, with 2014 listed as the next hottest on record; 2017 sits at number seven and 2016 came in 11th.
While it is self-evident, 2018 was statistically a stark year in the city’s rain gauges.
Mr Dutschke said it was the fourth-driest in 140 years of rainfall recordings.
“Tamworth gained 379mm, which is a fair bit below the average of 672mm,” he said.
“It was the driest since 1994 – that year saw 249mm.”
These figures were drawn from the airport gauge, which has been in operation since 1994.
When combined with those from the city’s previous station, Mr Dutschke said 1994 was the driest in 140 years, followed by 2018 in fourth place.
The senior meteorologist said the figures weren’t simply in line with what had been happening around Australia this year.
“It’s not Australia-wide, but for the [New England North West] area, I reckon it would be very similar for most places,” he said.
“It's really the days that have been the standout: significantly above average and everybody would be feeling it. The days and the rainfall deficit would be quite high across region.”
At the weekend, doctors renewed calls for people to take care as hot temperatures, nudging 40 degrees, were tipped to continue for the next week.
“It’s important to keep up water intake, stay cool and avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat of the day,” NSW Health executive director Jeremy McAnulty said.