Canberra area in 2009: Yet another hot, dry year

  • 2nd warmest for average maximum temperatures on record
  • 2nd warmest for average minimum temperatures on record
  • 13th consecutive year with above average maximum temperatures
  • Warmest November on record
  • 13th lowest rainfall on record
  • 5th consecutive year with below average rainfall

Rainfall

The total rainfall at Canberra Airport during 2009 was 443.4 mm, well below the historical annual average of 616.8 mm and the 5th consecutive year with below average rainfall. This was the lowest rainfall since 2006 and the 8th lowest on record. Most months received below average rainfall, excluding September and April, the latter receiving 72.6mm, the highest total since 1990. There were 95 rain days during 2009, which was below the historical average of 103 rain days. In comparison, the highest annual rainfall in the ACT was more than double Canberra Airport's total, with 928.8mm recorded at Mt Ginini AWS.

The wettest day of the year at Canberra Airport was just 27.4mm, resulting from an inland low pressure system on the 26th of December. The highest daily rainfall recorded anywhere in the ACT during the year was 55mm at Hall (Lockleigh) on the 23rd of September due to a thunderstorm.

Maximum temperature

Day-time (maximum) temperatures were above average at Canberra Airport during 2009, the 13th consecutive year with above average temperatures. The average annual maximum temperature of 21.4°C was 1.7°C above the historical annual average. This ranks as the 2nd warmest year since records commenced in 1939. The hottest day of the year in Canberra was 40°C at Canberra Airport on the 7th and 8th of February, with 17 days recorded above 35°C during the year, including three days during November compared to theaverage of 5 days per year.

Maximum temperatures were above average in all months except April and October, with November being the hottest on record. November month also recorded the highest number of days above 30°C (15) and the hottest day (38.9°C on the 20th) on record for the month, as a result of dominant northwesterly flow that brought similar heatwave conditions to much of NSW.

Minimum temperature

Canberra also experienced another year of above average annual minimum temperatures during 2009. The average minimum temperature of 8.0°C was 1.5°C above the historical average, ranking 2nd warmest out of 70 years of record. Annual minimum temperatures have been above the historical average continuously at Canberra Airport since 1999. The highest minimum temperature during the year was 21.1°C at Tuggeranong on the 6th of February and also Canberra Airport on the 8th of February.

Minimum temperatures were above average in every month, with November having the highest minimum temperatures on record. The warmest August minimum on record was also recorded at the airport, with 12°C on the 24th.

The coldest Canberra night was −6.0°C at Tuggeranong AWS on 11 June, although at the higher elevation site at Mount Ginini AWS (elev 1760 metres) outside of Canberra, the coldest night was −8.5°C, also on 11 June.

Wind

There were 25 strong wind days recorded at Canberra Airport during 2009 compared to the historical annual average of 30 days. The strongest wind gust reported was 106km/hr on the 20th of January, the highest gust recorded since 1996 and the strongest January winds since 1980. Gusts of 96 km/hr were also recorded on the 24th of April, the strongest April winds since 1993.

Other phenomena

Thunderstorms: Canberra Airport recorded 20 thunderstorms during 2009, slightly below the historical average of 26, with 51 storms recorded within the ACT as a whole. The most significant months for thunderstorms were October and November with 5 storms each. Hail was reported for two storms, with 2cm recorded at Yarralumla on the 20th of January and small hail on the 11th of August

Sunshine: The amount of sunshine for Canberra during 2009 averaged 7.9 hours per day which is slightly above the historical average of 7.7 hours per day. Monthly averages varied considerably from only 4.2 hours per day in June to 11.8 hours in January, the sunniest January on record.

Frosts and Fogs: There was a total of 58 frosts during 2009, well below the annual average of 100. Only 26 fogs occurred at the airport, below the annual average of 44. The foggiest month was June, when 10 fogs were reported at Canberra Airport.

Dust: A dust storm on the 15th of April reduced visibility to 4km over much of the ACT, resulting from strong westerly winds and dry weather over inland NSW. A second dust storm on the 22nd of September reduced visibility to 3km over the city.

Further information

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Extremes in 2009
Hottest day 40.0 °C at Canberra Airport on 7 Feb
40.0 °C at Canberra Airport on 8 Feb
Warmest days on average 21.4 °C at Canberra Airport
21.4 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest days on average 21.4 °C at Canberra Airport
21.4 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coldest day -2.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 26 Sep
Coldest night -8.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 11 Jun
-6.0 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 11 Jun

Coolest nights on average 7.9 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
8.0 °C at Canberra Airport
Warmest nights on average 8.0 °C at Canberra Airport
Warmest night 21.1 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 6 Feb
21.1 °C at Canberra Airport on 8 Feb
Wettest overall 1026.0 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
520.8 mm at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Wettest day 38.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS on 26 Apr
35.6 mm at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 28 Dec
Highest wind gust 113 km/h at Mount Ginini AWS on 25 Sep
106 km/h at Canberra Airport on 20 Jan




Summary statistics for 2009
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2009
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2009
Mean
for
2009
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2009
Total
for
2009
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2009
Fraction
of annual
average
Canberra Airport 21.4 +1.7 40.0 8 Feb 8.0 +1.5 -5.8 11 Jun 443.4 614.4 low 72%
Mount Ginini AWS 11.5   29.0 8 Feb 3.4   -8.5 11 Jun 928.8
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 21.4   39.9 8 Feb 7.9   -6.0 11 Jun 520.8

Notes

A Annual Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Canberra area using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 8 am on Tuesday 5 January 2010. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 20 years of record, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries