Wet start followed by dry spring

IT started with a wet autumn and wound up with a hot, dry spring carrying the precedent of previous bad bushfire years.

Last year the rain gods unleashed their fury at the end of the last day in February, the rainfall totals the next day a record for March of more than 100 millimetres in 24 hours.

It caused flash flooding, cut the Hume Freeway near Wangaratta with reports of up to 400 interstate trucks in the traffic jam.

But by the end of the year, the rain had all but disappeared, spring rain about half the long-term average and a far cry from recent years.

The last few months were also hot — the mean top temperature more than one degree higher than average.

Retired CSIRO weatherman Peter Nelson said the signs were lining up for a scorching summer, similar to that of 1951-52 that brought a bushfire into the heart of Wodonga.

“Broome has beaten its hottest mean maximum in December, the previous record dating back to 1951,” he said.

“Alice Springs, too, has had its hottest December since 1972.

“Their previous records were forerunners to very hot summers.

“But the way it is panning out it looks very much like the ‘51-52 summer — with plus 40- degree days at the start and end of January.”