Canberra in 2010: Fourth wettest year on record

  • Fourth wettest year on record for Canberra; wettest since 1974.
  • Highest daily rainfall since 1995.
  • 14th consecutive year with above average temperatures.

Rainfall

Canberra Airport recorded 959.6mm of rainfall during 2010, well above the historical average of 616.8mm and the fourth highest rainfall on record. This was the result of a strong La Niña event which developed during spring 2010, and is the wettest year since a previous La Niña event in 1974 (977mm). Rainfall in 2010 was more than double that recorded in 2009, which was an El Niño year. Most months received above average rainfall, including the second wettest December on record, with below average totals only recorded in February, April and June. The rain fell over 103 days, which is average for Canberra.

The wettest day in the year was December 3, when 87mm was recorded at Canberra Airport, the highest daily total since 21st January 1995 (93.8mm). Rainfall of up to 93.4mm was recorded on this day at Nicholls. This was the consequence of a low pressure trough over central NSW. The next wettest day was also in December, with 93mm at Tuggeranong and 32mm at Canberra Airport as a result of a strong cold front crossing the state. Significant flooding was experienced in the ACT during December, with Queanbeyan inundated and a Natural Disaster declared.

Very wet conditions also occurred on February 14, March 8, September 5 and October 16, during major rain events that caused significant flooding in NSW. These are described in more detail in the NSW annual summary. The highest annual rainfall in 2010 was 1591.8mm at Mt Ginini AWS, with Tharwa General Store recording its highest annual rainfall on record.

Some sites had their highest total rainfall on record.

Temperature

The average daily maximum temperature in Canberra was 20.3°C during 2010, which was 0.6°C above the historical average of 19.7°C. This was the 14th consecutive year with above average temperatures, with below average temperatures only recorded during August, October and December. There were 8 days with temperatures above 35°C during 2010, all of which occurred in January, with a maximum temperature of 39.8°C on January 12. This was significantly cooler than 2009, as a result of the increased rainfall associated with La Niña conditions.

Minimum temperatures were also above average for the twelth consecutive year during 2010, with 7.3°C on average compared to the historical average of 6.5°C. Minimums were also warmest during January, with a maximum overnight temperature of 24.5°C at Tuggeranong. Mean temperatures were consequently 0.7°C above average during 2010.

Wind

There were 22 strong wind days at Canberra Airport during 2010, lower then the historical average of 30 days. The highest wind gust at Canberra Airport was 85km/hr on September 4, followed by 83km/hr on September 5 as a result of a strong low pressure system to the south of the state. Wind gusts above 90km/hr were recorded at Mt Ginini on June 14, July 17 and October 15, with a maximum gust of 109km/hr on September 4.

Other phenomena

Thunderstorms: Canberra Airport recorded 18 thunderstorms during 2010, slightly below the historical average of 26, with 51 storms recorded within the ACT as a whole. Hail was reported in the ACT region for four storms, on July 24, August 1, November 8 and December 2.

Sunshine: The amount of sunshine for Canberra during 2010 averaged 7.7 hours per day, which is average for Canberra. Monthly averages varied considerably from only 5.5 hours per day in July to 10.8 hours in January.

Frosts and Fogs: There was a total of 53 frosts during 2010, well below the annual average of 100. 62 fogs occurred at the airport, above the annual average of 44. The foggiest month was July, when 14 fogs were reported at Canberra Airport, the second foggiest on record.

Further information

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Extremes in 2010
Hottest day 39.8 °C at Canberra Airport on 12 Jan
Warmest days on average 20.3 °C at Canberra Airport
20.3 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest days on average 19.2 °C at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Coldest day -3.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 25 Aug
Coldest night -7.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 25 Aug
-6.7 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 29 Jun
Coolest nights on average 7.3 °C at Canberra Airport
Warmest nights on average 7.5 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 24.5 °C at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on 23 Jan
Warmest on average overall 13.9 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest on average overall 13.7 °C at Canberra Airport
Wettest overall 1591.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
1298.4 mm at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Wettest day 93.4 mm at Nicholls (Gungahlin Lakes) on 3 Dec
93.0 mm at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 9 Dec
Highest wind gust 109 km/h at Mount Ginini AWS on 4 Sep

Record highest total annual rainfall
Total rainfall
for 2010 (mm)
Previous annual
wettest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Tharwa General Store 1027.6 921.6 in 1992 49 622.7



Summary statistics for 2010
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2010
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2010
Mean
for
2010
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2010
Total
for
2010
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2010
Fraction
of annual
average
Canberra Airport 20.3   39.8 12 Jan 7.3   -5.0 28 Jun 959.6
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve 19.2 +0.2 37.0 12 Jan 7.4 +0.9 -5.5 29 Jun 1298.4 931.3 v high 139%
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 20.3   38.6 12 Jan 7.5   -6.7 29 Jun

Notes

As of March 2010, the official station for Canberra is 70351 'Canberra Airport'. Averages from the previous site, 70014 Canberra Airport Comparison, are used for comparisons (all years of record).

An Annual Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in ACT Monthly Summary 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 12 pm on Tuesday 4 January 2011. 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