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Dry autumn to follow Newcastle and the Hunter’s record summer

REFUGE: Beachgoers seek relief at Bar Beach in January, during a record summer for hot days of 35 degrees or hotter in Newcastle and the Hunter. Picture: Marina NeilA WARM, dry autumn is predictedtofollowa relentless, record Huntersummer, which broughtmore extremely hot daysthan ever before.

Newcastleexperienceda record nine days of 35 degrees or hotter from December through February, andmoreextreme summer heat was felt further inland.

Cessnock had thirty-two days of35 degrees or above duringsummer,andthirteen days of40 degrees or hotter.

In Singleton,thirty-four days were35 degrees or hotter, and seventeen days were at least 40 degrees.

From February 10 to 12, the town experienced three days in a row of more than45 degrees.

That heatwave included Saturday, February 11, the hottest day ever recorded in Singleton, Maitland, Cessnock and Williamtown. The temperature reached 47.2 degrees in Singleton.

That markbroke the February record by almost three degrees.

“For southeast , summer 2016/17 was exceptional for the large number of days above high temperature thresholds,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a special climate report for February.

“The heat often extended to the east coast, and populated centres such as Sydney and Newcastle had record numbers of days of 35 degreesor above.”

The bureau said the hot days,anda stark lack of cool changes, wereinfluenced by warm sea-surface temperatures that kept overnight conditionsmuch warmer than normal.

A high-pressure ridgeover NSWalsobrought warm, stagnantair.

Those conditions are likely to persist, the bureau said in its seasonal outlook, increasing the chance ofa warm and drier-than-average autumn.

The bureau noted the state’s trend of rising temperatures overseveral years.

“The 2017 warm event is the latest in a sequence of prolonged or intense warm spells that have affected roughly every six weeks since the end of 2012 and, overall, the time between heat events is shortening,” theclimate report said.

After the record heat, Newcastle’s last three daysof summer were wet with temperatures in the low to mid-20s.

A high of 23 degrees and a possible storm are forecast in Newcastle on Wednesday, the first day of autumn. More rain and highs of 24 degrees are expected on Thursday and Friday.

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