Sydney weather: frequent cold fronts set up chilliest July since 1998

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Early morning walkers at Coogee Beach in July. Photo: Janie Barrett.Parts of the Sydney region have shivered through another sub-zero morning with the city on track to record its chilliestJuly in 17 years in a month that is often marked byfrequent cold fronts.
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The mercury dipped to minus0.4 degrees inRichmond inSydney’s north-west on Tuesday morning, while HorsleyPark and Camdenposted lows of just 1.2 and 1.3degree, respectively.

The CBD fared better with a minimum of6.4 degrees -the city’s 11th day this month with temperatures dipping below7 degrees.

Residents in Oberon say a mid-July snow dump was the biggest in 40 years. Photo: Brendan Esposito.

With only a few days to go before August,forecasts indicate Sydney will post its coldest July since 1998 according to the average of day and night temperatures, Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist with Fairfax Media’sWeatherzone, said.

The July result -the coldest for the monththis century – isa feat made less likely as climate change liftsglobal temperatures. Over the past 15 years, the frequency of very cool months has dropped by about one-third compared with the 1951-80 period while very warm months are five times more likely, thebureau said in its latest Stateof the Climate report.

Other parts of south-eastern Australia have also had a cold July, with Melbourne’s daytime temperatures likely to be that city’s lowest for the month in 20 years.Adelaide will probably have itscoolest July since 1998, Mr Dutschke said.

“The main contributor …has been a high frequency of fronts, and stronger-than-normal fronts,” Mr Dutschke said.

Despite the chill, Sydney will collect only about one-half the typical monthly rain in July. Photo: Peter Rae.

“It’s largely because the polar jetstream across Australia has been further north than normal and allowed the cold air to spill further north.”

Sydney’soutlook for the coming week is for much of the same conditions as of late:generally sunny days with little cloud level, leading to cool mornings and mild days.

Overnight temperatures should dip to single digits each night but most days will be at least 18 degrees with Thursday’s top likely to nudge 20 degrees.

According to a global forecast provided by the Canadian meteorologicalservice, south-eastern Australia can expect below-average temperatures for nextweek.

Another notable feature of July for Sydney has been prevailing westerly winds, leading to clearer skies and less rainfall.

On current forecasts, Sydney should be dry until at least next Monday.

Sydney’s rainfall this month has been 47 millimetres, or just under half the average for the month.

Australia as a whole is in for a mostlydry week, with the exception of parts of south-westernWA where good rain is expected, while westernTasmania will also be particularlywet, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The pattern of cold fronts will extend well into August although it is unlikely that they will match the trio of fronts in mid-July that helped set up the cool patchover south-eastern Australia.

“It doesn’t look like it will change much in the coming week,” MrDutschkesaid. “We can expect to get fairly frequent cold surges [for August] and most won’t bring a lot of rain.”

Ski fields, though, will fare better, with cold conditions helping to retain the snow and enough regular top-ups to keep conditions good, Mr Dutschke said.

Darwin oddity

July has also broughtsome other odd events, such as a relative chill in Darwin when the cold air pierced far into the tropics.

The maximum of 33.6 degrees for the city on July 12 was followed by a relatively cool 29 degrees the nextday, the largest two-day drop for the month in about70 years of records, Mr Dutschke said.

For those wondering how southern Australia might be cold during an El Nino period, Mr Dutschkesaid such events tend not to have an impact on this region until late winter or early spring.

“In recent years, it’s warmed quite rapidly in August and it could happen this year, especially as the effects of the El Nino kick in,” he said.

The El Nino involves the central and eastern Pacificwarming relative to the west, leading to shifting rainfall patterns and a jump in global temperatures.This year’s event may also be a big one.

Combined with the background warming from climate change,June and the first six months of 2015 are the hottest on record, a US agencysaid earlier this month.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website

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