‘Extreme’ January officially Australia’s hottest month on record

While the U.S. and other parts of the northern hemisphere have been dealing with record cold, Australia’s scorching January was the country’s hottest month ever.

The country’s Bureau of Meteorology confirmed Friday that the mean temperature across Australia exceeded 86 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time.

“We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes,” Bureau senior climatologist Andrew said in a statement.

The South Australian capital Adelaide on Jan. 24 recorded the hottest day ever for a major Australian city — a searing 115.9 F.

On the same day, the South Australian town of Port Augusta, population 15,000, recorded 121.1 F — the highest maximum anywhere in Australia last month.

Additionally, 2018 was Australia’s third-hottest year on record with only 2005 and 2013 being warmer.

During heatwaves last month, heat-stressed bats dropped dead from trees by the thousands in Victoria state, and bitumen roads melted in New South Wales. In New South Wales, hundreds of thousands of fish died in two mass deaths linked to excessive heat.

This image made from a video taken on Jan. 7, 2019, shows dead fish along the Darling River bank in Menindee, New South Wales, Australia. An Australian state government on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 announced plans to mechanically pump oxygen into lakes and rivers after hundreds of thousands of fish have died in heatwave conditions.

This image made from a video taken on Jan. 7, 2019, shows dead fish along the Darling River bank in Menindee, New South Wales, Australia. An Australian state government on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 announced plans to mechanically pump oxygen into lakes and rivers after hundreds of thousands of fish have died in heatwave conditions. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)

The main contributor to the heat was a persistent high-pressure system over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand that blocked cold fronts from reaching southern Australia.

Rainfall was below-average for most of the country, but the monsoonal trough has brought flooding rains to northern Queensland state in the past week, leading to a disaster declaration around the city of Townsville.

Queensland’s flooded Daintree River reached a 118-year high this week.

Emergency services reported rescuing 28 people from floodwaters in the past week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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