Canberra in 2016: A warm, wet year

2016 was a variable year for the ACT, with record-breaking warmth and below-average rainfall in autumn followed by a very wet winter and early spring. It was the wettest year for Canberra Airport since 2010, while mean temperatures were the equal third-warmest on record.

Wettest year since 2010

  • Rainfall was 28% above average at Canberra Airport, the wettest year since 2010
  • After a wet January, rainfall was 46% below average at Canberra Airport during the four months from February to May
  • The four months from June to September were the wettest such period on record, with rainfall 127% above average at Canberra Airport
  • Conditions returned to normal at the end of the year, with a dry October but closer to average rainfall in November and December
  • There were 127 rain days at Canberra Airport, above the average of 106 days; 51 recorded at least 5 mm, the equal third-highest on record and the most wet days since 1956 (average is 35 days)
  • Canberra Airport recorded two days above 50 mm during 2016, associated with low pressure systems on 6 June and 3 September; these were the wettest June day and second-wettest September day on record

Third-warmest year on record

  • Mean temperatures at Canberra Airport during 2016 were 1.3 °C above average, the equal third-warmest on record and the warmest since 2009
  • Both maximum and minimum temperatures were among the ten warmest years on record
  • Temperatures were particularly warm during the first half of the year, with mean temperatures more than 1 °C above average during every month between February and July and the warmest autumn on record
  • Temperatures were closer to average during spring, with mean temperatures in October 0.9 °C below average, the largest negative anomaly since May 2012
  • Warmth returned in December, which was the second-warmest on record for Canberra
  • 59 days reached 30 °C at Canberra Airport during the year, the equal third-highest on record (average 32 days), with notable heatwaves during March and December
  • Minimum temperatures were generally mild, with 139 nights of 10 °C or higher, the third-highest number on record (average 114 nights)

Further information

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Extremes in 2016
Hottest day 39.3 °C at Canberra Airport on 13 Jan
Warmest days on average 21.2 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest days on average 11.7 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Coldest day -4.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 13 Jul
Coldest night -7.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 25 Jun
Coolest nights on average 3.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Warmest nights on average 7.9 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 22.0 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 14 Jan
22.0 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 29 Dec
Warmest on average overall 14.4 °C at Canberra Airport
14.4 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest on average overall 7.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest overall 1404.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
Driest overall 788.2 mm at Canberra Airport
Wettest day 81.8 mm at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 6 Jun
Strongest wind gust 107 km/h at Mount Ginini AWS on 22 Jul

Highest annual total rainfall for at least 20 years

Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Annual
average
Canberra (Australian National Botanic Gardens) 908.4 911.5 in 1989* 695.4

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a higher value has gone unreported


Summary statistics for 2016

Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2016
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2016
Mean
for
2016
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2016
Total
for
2016
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2016
Fraction
of annual
average
Canberra Airport 21.2 +1.5 39.3 13 Jan 7.6 +1.1 -5.5 15 Jun 788.2 614.4
high
128%
Mount Ginini AWS 11.7 -0.1 28.3 13 Jan 3.8 +0.3 -7.8 25 Jun 1404.8 1053.3 high 133%
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 20.9 +0.1 38.7 13 Jan 7.9 +1.0 -5.1 15 Jun 862.8 631.5 high 137%
Note: Observations for “Canberra Airport” are taken from the current site (Bureau number 070351), which opened in late 2008.
Comparisons are made against data from the previous site Canberra Airport Comparison (070014), which ran from 1939 to 2010.

Notes

The Annual climate summary, generally published on the second working day of the year, lists the main features of the weather in Canberra 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 statement has been prepared based on information available at 8 am on Tuesday 3 January 2017. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

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.

Observations for “Canberra Airport” are taken from the current site (Bureau number 070351), which opened in late 2008.
Comparisons are made against data from the previous site Canberra Airport Comparison (070014), which ran from 1939 to 2010.

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
Enquiries