Australia had third-warmest year on record in 2017

Lightning strike over Sydney

"That means odds favouring warmer than average temperatures more often than in the past, that's what we've seen when you look at the temperatures into the late 1980s and '90s".

"The cumulative damage of these 16 USA events during 2017 is US$306.2 billion, which shatters the previous USA annual record cost of US$214.8 billion established in 2005", NOAA noted.

The average US temperature in 2017 was 54.6 degrees F (2.6 degrees F above average), making 2017 third warmest year in 123 years of record-keeping, according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

Bureau of Meteorology's climate monitoring head Karl Braganza revealed the news during the weather agency's annual climate statement for 2017.

Last year, the USA experienced 16 weather and climate disasters each with losses exceeding $1 billion, totaling approximately $306 billion - a new US record.

Seven of Australia's 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, the bureau found, and another hotter-than-average year is expected in 2018, which has already brought heatwave conditions to the country's southeast. All five top years - including the country's warmest, 2016 - have taken place since 2006. The two consecutive years recorded the first time Australia saw two mass bleaching events two summers in a row. "We have seen that warming across the land surface temperatures and in the ocean surrounding Australia, so they have both warmed by a similar amount and that's consistent with global warming as well", he said.

Five states-Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina-had their warmest years on record, according to NOAA. Daytime temperatures were specifically warm, coming in as the second-warmest at 1.27 degrees above average.

The bureau is forecasting a wetter and cooler-than-average start to this year, but Perth and the South West should stay relatively warm and dry. The month ended with record and near-record cold temperatures for many locations in the East.

Sydney on Sunday (Jan 7) sweltered through its hottest day in 80 years, while highway asphalt melted in Victoria state and bushfires burned out of control. Before we know it, we'll be melting with humidity again.

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