Weather tracker: record-breaking heat in Australia

Australia swelters while in Brazil there have been record downpours

Southern Australia has recorded significant heat over the past week with maximum temperatures widely reaching in excess of 35C (95F), as well as more than 10C above the climatological average. Many stations in the south, across Western Australia and South Australia, recorded temperatures in excess of 40C with Eucla and Red Rock Points recording their highest February temperature of 46.8C on 22 February. Two large blocking high pressure systems south and west of Australia have allowed heat to stall across western and southern parts. This will be pushed further eastwards through this week, although lessening in severity.

In addition to this, many parts of the west coast have had high sea surface temperature anomalies throughout February, about 1-2C above normal. Because of this there is a chance that further cyclogenesis off the north-west coast may take place in the coming weeks – bringing further tropical storms.

Last weekend, on 18 and 19 February, the state of São Paulo in Brazil had torrential rain during its carnival holiday weekend. During this period, Brazil recorded its highest ever 24-hour rainfall accumulations of 682mm in Bertioga while the city of São Sebastião recorded accumulations of 626mm in the same period. For comparison, the highest ever recorded 24-hour total in the UK was 341mm in Cumbria in 2015, which brought damage to more than 50,000 homes. The intense rainfall was a result of low pressure off the south-east coast of Brazil bringing an onshore flow that brought moist air off the warmer than normal sea. The moist air was then forced over the mountains, orographically enhancing the rainfall, bringing extremely intense downpours.

On 21 February Tropical Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Madagascar with winds estimated at more than 100mph while it was just offshore, making it at least a category 2 cyclone. However, as it made landfall it weakened rapidly and the effects were not as severe as they could have been. Nevertheless, there have been at least four confirmed deaths and thousands have been displaced. As Freddy pushed across Madagascar, the cyclone was downgraded with winds of 80mph (130km/h) reported before easing further as it tracked into western parts of the island, then the Mozambique Channel. The cyclone will continue into Mozambique bringing winds of at least 50mph, but will again weaken as it continues inland to a tropical depression.

Azure Prior (MetDesk)

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