Heat lingers to start autumn

By Thomas Moir

Autumn is usually meant to signal the end of summer.

But Shepparton must have missed the memo for the first five days of this month, when the maximum daily temperature did not dip below 35°C.

The fourth day of the month set a record for Shepparton’s hottest March day, likely in at least 50 years, peaking at 40.3°C.

The first three days hit 37, 35 and 37, while the fifth also reached 35°C.

Meanwhile, since March 6 the city has experienced a cooler spell, peaking mostly at high 20s and low 30s.

Recorded at the Shepparton Airport weather site, the Bureau of Meteorology said the 40.3°C March record went back quite a long way.

While records at the Shepparton Airport only go back to 1996, records at other sites in the Shepparton area go back to 1965.

Using records from sites that go further back, the bureau says 40.3°C is the hottest March day.

On one March day in Lemnos in 1986 it got close; 40.1°C.

However, a hot start to autumn was also felt just three years ago.

In March 2016, there were eight consecutive days reaching 35°C or hotter.

This 2016 period, March 2 to 9, included five days of temperatures 38°C and hotter.

Shepparton sweltered through heatwave-like conditions during January, with the mercury passing 40°C on eight days and reaching the city’s hottest summer temperature in at least 20 years — 46.2°C — recorded on January 25 at Shepparton Airport.

Bureau figures show Shepparton recorded not only its hottest summer day, but also its highest mean daily minimum and record highest mean temperatures.

Summer’s mean maximum recorded at Shepparton Airport was 33.1°C, 2.5°C warmer than average.

This topped the previous summer mean daily maximum record of 32°C, set in 2013.