Stawell's record breaking heat

STAWELL - Stawell has sweltered through one of its hottest months on record with five days in excess of 40 degrees Celsius in January.

It is the first time that has occurred since at least 1997 when the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) first made daily maximum temperatures publicly accessible.

All of the days were above 41 degrees and make the cumulative number of days of heat more severe than the record-breaking heatwave experienced over the final four days of the same month in 2009.

The statistics are massively different to exactly a decade ago when Stawell recorded no days above 40 degrees for the entire month of January.

In fact the highest daily maximum was almost mild by comparison with 35.7 degrees the highest reading for the entire month of January 2004.

This month's highest daily maximum of 44 degrees at the beginning of the heatwave is also a new record high for the month of January - the previous record high of 43.6 degrees had stood since 2003.

The record high on the 14th of January was followed by temperatures of 42.5, 41.5 and 42.6 over consecutive days.

The hottest day of the month was also followed by the hottest night of the month with a low of 25.5 degrees tail ended by another two nights of minimum temperatures still in the low-20s which made for several nights of uncomfortable sleep.

For much of the last 20 years, on average Stawell has experienced one to two days in January above 40 with the exception of a couple of years when there were either three or none at all.

After what was a deceptively cool start to the month where we experienced temperatures in the low to mid-20s for the first seven days, it wasn't until the ninth before Stawell broke 30 degrees.

The heatwave experienced mid month culminated in the highest wind gusts of the month and fanned the devastating bushfires in the Grampians and the Black Range.

Stawell finished the month with a reminder of just how hot it has been with another 41.5 degree day on the 28th and several more days that flirted with temperatures in the forties before and after.

The long term average daily maximum of 29.1 degrees has been exceeded by more than a degree, with the daily mean sitting above 30 degrees Celsius.

The average overnight minimum of 14.6 degrees is also more than a degree above the long term average nightly minimum of 13.4 degrees.

It was also another dry January for Stawell with the total rainfall of 19.2 millimetres falling well short of the long term average of 37.6mm.

The highest 24-hour daily rainfall total occurred on January 24 when 8.8 millimetres brought relief to residents and firefighters in the wake of the heatwave and bushfires.

The BOM has forecast an even chance of above or below average temperatures, as well as an even chance of above or below average rainfall for the period of February to April 2014.

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