Spring beats last summer for heat 

 A FEW weeks of spring have already delivered parts of the Hunter more heat than last summer.

Rising temperatures and clear days have given an indication of a warmer summer than previous years, with the mercury tipping over 30 degrees several times already.

Bureau of Meteorology figures show Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Nelson Bay have all had more temperatures above 30 this month than in the entirety of last summer.

The warmer weather brought a total fire ban into force across the Hunter as well as pushing several areas beyond their summer hot streaks.

Nobbys inched past even yesterday, recording its fifth day above 30 degrees this month.

The tally compares to four in the most recent summer.

Nelson Bay, which failed to record a temperature above 30 degrees in summer, had recorded two for October by yesterday.

Maitland, Cessnock and Williamtown remain several days short of their totals from last summer while Singleton and Scone were in no danger of surpassing those marks.

Mr Cornelius said last summer had been characterised by easterly winds driving moisture onto coastal areas, but leaving the Upper Hunter dry and warm. Westerlies and north-westerlies were now driving warmth from central Australia through to the shore suburbs instead, he said.

‘‘We certainly have seen a lot more westerly and north-westerly winds [this month],’’ Mr Cornelius said.

‘‘With this year we’ve seen highly variable weather which is probably more what we should expect in spring.’’

He said a downgrading of El Nino reflected ocean temperatures being close to average, meaning fairly standard summer conditions.l

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