Australian Capital Territory in 2021: wet and cool

Rainfall for the Australian Capital Territory in 2021 was around 50% above average, including the wettest November on record. Daytime temperatures were around 1.5 degrees below the average over recent decades, while night-time temperatures were around half a degree below average.

A wet year

  • It was a wet year across the Australian Capital Territory, with rainfall totals around 50% above average.
  • Five sites had their highest total rainfall on record.
  • It was the wettest year at Canberra Airport since 2010, and the fifth-wettest year on record.
  • March and June were very wet months, with significant rain events and some flooding.
  • It was very dry in April, with Canberra Airport having its third-lowest April rainfall on record.
  • September was a wet month, with Canberra Airport recording more than twice the average September rainfall.
  • It was the wettest November on record across the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Flooding occurred on the Murrumbidgee and lower Molonglo rivers on numerous occasions during the year.

Below average temperatures

  • Temperatures were below average in 2021 across the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Mean maximum temperatures were around 1.5 °C below the average over recent decades.
  • Tuggeranong, with 25 years of data, had its lowest mean daily maximum temperature on record, and at Canberra Airport it was the lowest since 1996.
  • There were few very warm days in 2021; Canberra Airport had just 3 days where the maximum temperature was at least 35 °C, in contrast 2019 had 33 such days.
  • Mean minimum temperatures were around 0.5 °C below the average over recent decades.
  • Clear skies and very dry conditions in April saw mean minimum temperatures around 3 °C below average.
  • Canberra Airport had 6 days in April with a minimum temperature of less than 0 °C, a record for the month.

Canberra Airport

  • Total rainfall for Canberra Airport was 912.6 mm, which is 146% of the average at the current site, or 148% of the average over all years at Canberra Airport.
  • It was the wettest November on record at Canberra Airport, and June and September were in the wettest five for their respective months.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Canberra Airport was 19.6 °C, which is 1.5 °C below the average at the current site, or 0.3 °C below the average over all years at Canberra Airport.
  • The warmest day was 38.0 °C on 25 January, and the coolest day was on 6 July when the temperature reached 6.3 °C. Canberra Airport had 11 days below 10.0 °C, the most number of such days since 2007.
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Canberra Airport was 6.2 °C, which is 0.6 °C below the average at the current site, or 0.3 °C below the average over all years at Canberra Airport.
  • The coldest morning was -6.3 °C on 31 May, and the warmest morning was on 6 February when the minimum temperature was 18.8 °C.
  • Note: Observations for Canberra Airport are taken from the current site Canberra Airport (070351) which opened in late 2008. Comparisons and averages over all years are made against data from the previous site Canberra Airport Comparison (070014), which ran from 1939 to 2010, combined with the current site from March 2010 onwards.

Further information

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Extremes in 2021
Hottest day 38.0 °C at Canberra Airport on 25 Jan
Warmest days on average 19.6 °C at Canberra Airport
19.6 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest days on average 19.6 °C at Canberra Airport
19.6 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coldest day -2.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 4 Jul
Coldest night -7.0 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 21 Jul
Coolest nights on average 6.2 °C at Canberra Airport
Warmest nights on average 6.6 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 18.8 °C at Canberra Airport on 6 Feb
Warmest on average overall 13.1 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest on average overall 12.9 °C at Canberra Airport
Wettest overall 1105.0 mm at Aranda (Bindaga St)
Wettest day 79.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS on 6 Feb
Strongest wind gust 106 km/h at Mount Ginini AWS on 15 Nov

Record highest annual total rainfall

New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Canberra (Australian National Botanic Ga 1102.2 1033.5 in 1974 53 693.1
Sutton (Uba) 1025.1 999.6 in 2010 51 650.2
Aranda (Bindaga St) 1105.0 1036.6 in 2010 45 666.9
Torrens (Darke St) 1060.0 983.0 in 1992 36 671.0
Bruce (Australian Institute of Sport) 1047.7 942.7 in 1983 29 686.8



Record lowest annual mean daily maximum temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 19.6 20.0 in 2012 25 20.9



Summary statistics for 2021

Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2021
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2021
Mean
for
2021
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2021
Total
for
2021
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2021
Fraction
of annual
average
Canberra Airport 19.6 -1.5 38.0 25 Jan 6.2 -0.6 -6.3 31 May 912.6 624.4 high 146%
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 19.6 -1.3 37.0 25 Jan 6.6 -0.4 -5.6 30 Jul




Notes

The Annual climate summary lists the main features of the weather in Australian Capital Territory using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. More extensive discussion of significant weather events, along with later information and data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

This summary includes data from observing sites in or near the Australian Capital Territory “Greater Capital City Statistical Area” (GCCSA). The Australian Bureau of Statistics designed the GCCSAs to “include the population within the urban area of the city, as well as people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, and live in small towns and rural areas surrounding the city. It is important to note that GCCSAs do not define the built up edge of the city. They provide a stable definition for these cities and are designed for the output of a range of social and economic survey data.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 5 pm on Monday 7 February 2022. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

In some situations, some or all of the rainfall is in the form of hail or snow. In these cases the totals given are for the water equivalent: the depth of liquid water that results from melting any frozen precipitation. There can be significant 'undercatch' of snow in strong winds, meaning the true precipitation can be higher than that reported.

Averages for individual sites 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 10 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.

Where temperature area averages are mentioned, they are derived from the ACORN-SAT dataset.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057

Climate