Scorching April heat sets records for Pilbara
Record April temperatures and very low rainfall have caused the increasingly dusty Pilbara landscape to crack.
Official figures were yet to be released by the Bureau of Meteorology at the time of print, but average temperatures for April seem to have tipped 36.8C at Karratha Aero, making it the hottest April since records began in 1993.
The story is similar along the coast. Exmouth and Onslow are both likely to have broken new ground with mean temperatures more than 0.4C and 1C above their previous records respectively.
Inland, Marble Bar’s likely average April temperature of 39.4C wrote a new record for the notoriously hot town for the second month in a row.
Paraburdoo Aero broke its daily April heat record of 40.4C four days in a row, recording 41.1, 41.4, 41.4 and 41.6 from April 2 to 5. Marble Bar hit new highs three times in the same period.
Port Hedland Aero (42.5), Telfer Aero (42.3), Roebourne Aero (42.2), Wittenoom (42), Learmonth (41.8) and Newman aero (40.9) all notched up new daily heat records
in April as well. Overall heat records for the Pilbara wet season were mostly left untouched however, because of a cooler than average end to 2015.
When it comes to rain, Karratha Aero recorded just 14.6mm between November and April.
In 45 years of record-keeping, only three wet seasons have been drier; 2009/10, 2001/02 and 1982/83.
Most of the coast between Hedland and Exmouth received less than 20 per cent of its average rainfall, with many inland areas at least 40 per cent drier than usual as well.
Department of Parks and Wildlife Karijini National Park ranger Dan Petersen said below-average rainfall had led to Weano Gorge running dry for the first time in his five-year tenure at the park.
“Liaising with longer-term staff and traditional owners, they commented on seeing it dry a couple of times many years ago but it’s not a common occurrence,” he said.
“Due to lack of seasonal rainfall, water has become stagnant at Weano, so we advise (people) not to swim in it.
“Having low rainfall throughout wet season, I dare say it will have some slight impact on the abundance of wildflowers.”
Mr Peterson said other gorges in the park were still relatively healthy and fuel loads were manageable.