THE Bureau of Meteorology said 2014 was Australia's third hottest year since national records began more than a century ago.

Maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average for most of last year with February the only month that recorded below average temperatures.

Since 2002 Australia has recorded seven of its hottest years on record with 2013 being the warmest year recorded.

The bureau revealed annual mean temperatures were well above average for the southern states and for southern and western Queensland and for most of Western Australia.

Six significant heatwaves were recorded last year and four tropical cyclones made landfall with tropical Cyclone Ita being the most intense system.

It crossed the coast near Cooktown in Queensland.

Drought conditions continued for large parts of Queensland and New South Wales despite an average rainfall of 478mm being registered across the nation, 13mm above the long-term average.

Bureau of Meteorology Climate Information Services assistant director Neil Plummer said yesterday that 2014 was characterised by frequent heatwaves, warm spells and a notable reduction in cold weather.

"Much of Australia experienced temperatures very much above average in 2014 with mean temperatures 0.91 degrees above the long-term average," Mr Plummer said.

"Particularly warm conditions occurred in spring 2014 which was Australia's warmest on record.

"El Nino-like effects were felt in drier and warmer conditions in much of eastern Australia during 2014."

The World Meteorological Organisation estimates 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, year recorded worldwide.

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