Official figures revealed the mean monthly temperature around the country exceeded 30 degrees for the first time.
Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins said records were broken across Australia.
“The exceptional story here is temperatures,” Dr Watkins said.
“One of the key records that we’ve seen has been the hottest overnight temperature on record – the hottest minimum temperature on record – 36.6 degrees was the lowest it got to one night in Borrona Downs in north-west NSW.”
The record for the highest temperature in January was also broken, with 49.5 degrees recorded in Port Augusta in South Australia.
In Victoria, it was the warmest January for mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures.
“Victoria was exceptionally warm for January,” Dr Watkins said. “Exceptionally hot, exceptionally dry.
“For Melbourne, it was very warm but also quite dry. In actual fact, it was one of our 10 driest Januaries on record.”
And there is no relief in sight.
“In Victoria, it’s likely we will see warm temperatures continue on through February and into March and April. There is over an 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-normal days, and slightly less chance of warmer than normal nights.”
Dr Watkins said parts of Australia have also seen long periods of extreme heat.
In Menindee, in far western NSW, there were four days in a row of 47-degree heat. Bourke in the state’s north-west recorded 21 days of 40 degrees or more, while Cloncurry in north-western Queensland recorded 43 days in a row of 40 degrees or higher.
Canberra had four days in a row of more than 40 degrees, which Dr Watkins said was “quite exceptional” for the national capital, and Hobart experienced its warmest January on record with seven days in a row at 30 degrees or higher.
The outlier was Perth, recording its coolest January in more than 10 years.
Brisbane received less than 20 per cent of its normal rainfall, however the Queensland’s north-east has had good rainfall which led to moderate to major flooding around the Townsville region. It was Western Australia’s driest January since 2005.
Hot January follows record December
The record January follows a record-breaking December, with 2018 seeing the hottest December ever recorded in Australia.
The national mean temperature for the month was 2.13 degrees above average, with record maximum temperatures set in sites across the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, NSW and Victoria.
Unfortunately, there will be little relief in February, with the hot conditions set to continue well into the year.
“Odds are favouring that heat continuing at least through February, into March and April – odds of over 80 per cent that we’ll have warmer than normal days and nights as well,” Dr Watkins said.
Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.
Rachel Clun is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.