Temps hit record highs
NEW South Wales has sweltered through one of its hottest years on record despite Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) figures showing July was the coldest it had been since 1997.
BOM climate monitoring manager Karl Braganza said he expects the national average temperature for 2015 to rank in the top five warmest years on record.
"NSW recorded well above average temperatures during 2015 but rainfall was closer to average," Dr Braganza said.
"The rain came in spite of El Nino and was associated with significant weather events over the cooler months, including very heavy rainfall from east coast lows in late April and early May."
The coolest July in 18 years delivered snowfall to low altitudes on the Great Dividing Range.
But the year ended with a very dry and warm spring as El Nino took hold.
"Early season heatwaves led to NSW's second warmest spring on record and warmest October on record," Dr Braganza said.
"Perhaps the freakiest weather event in NSW for the year was the tornado in Kurnell in Sydney on December 16.
"Tornadoes are not uncommon in Australia but it's rare to get one in the city."
The El Nino weather pattern became established in May and contributed to the country's warm and dry conditions, developing into one of the strongest such events in the past two decades.
NSW and inland Western Australia were the only two areas to buck the dry trend due to moisture from a record warm Indian Ocean during winter.
"However, rainfall was well below average elsewhere in the country with drought conditions persisting through inland Queensland, as well as south-west WA," Dr Braganza said.
Dr Braganza said the current warm temperatures would continue for most of the country for the next few months.
The bureau will release its official 2015 figures this month.