Annual climate statement 2014
Issued Tuesday 6 January 2015
Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2014 was Australia's third-warmest year on record while rainfall was near average nationally.
2014 was Australia's third-warmest year since national temperature observations commenced in 1910. Following Australia's warmest year on record in 2013, both maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average, with frequent periods of abnormally warm weather throughout the year. Only February, with a monthly anomaly of −0.17 °C, saw a national mean temperature which was below average (compared to 1961–1990).
The Australian area-averaged mean temperature for 2014 was 0.91 °C above the 1961–1990 average. Maximum temperatures were 1.16 °C above average, and minimum temperatures 0.66 °C above average. Annual mean temperatures were near average for parts of northern Australia and well above average for the southern States, southern and western Queensland, and most of Western Australia. For southern Australia as a whole (the area south of the Northern Territory border), the annual mean temperature was the second-highest on record with an anomaly of +1.28 °C, behind +1.29 °C recorded in 2013.
Seven of Australia's ten warmest years on record have occurred in the 13 years from 2002, with one cooler-than-average year in the past decade: 2011. The 10-year mean temperature for 2005–2014 was 0.55 °C above average, the highest on record.
The Australian mean rainfall total for 2014 was 478 mm, 13 mm above the average of 465 mm. This places 2014 near the median or mid-point of historical observations.
Annual rainfall was above average across far north Queensland, through the central and western Northern Territory, central to eastern Western Australia and parts of South Australia. Rainfall was below to very much below average across the South West Land Division and coastal Gascoyne in Western Australia, the majority of Victoria, southeast South Australia, all of Tasmania and a large area covering northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland.
2014 annual rainfall compared to historical rainfall observations. See definition of deciles.
2014 may be the warmest year on record globally
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) produce an estimated global mean temperature based on the average of three global surface climate datasets: those maintained by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre (HadCRUT4), the US National Climatic Data Center (MLOST) and the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISTEMP).
Based on preliminary data (January–November), the estimated global mean temperature for 2014 is 0.57 ± 0.10 °C above the 1961–1990 average. Using this three-dataset method, 2014 is likely to be the warmest year on record (global observations commence in 1880). No year since 1985 has observed a below-average global mean temperature and all of the ten warmest years have occurred between 1998 and the present.
Persistent warmth throughout the year
A number of prolonged and geographically extensive warm spells affected Australia during 2014, resulting in monthly records for highest temperature being set at numerous locations. Heatwaves and warm spells affected central and eastern Australia from late December 2013 to early January 2014; southeast Australia during mid-January; much of Australia, but especially the southeast, during the second half of May; the southern half of Australia late in October strongly affecting South Australia, New South Wales and southern Queensland; and two heatwaves in November, affecting central Australia, New South Wales, southern Queensland and Northern Territory in the middle of the month and persisting across New South Wales and Queensland late into the month (see later section for more detail).
It was the warmest year on record for New South Wales (0.04 °C above the previous record set in 2009), the second-warmest for Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, equal-third-warmest for Queensland and and fourth-warmest for Western Australia. The Northern Territory was the only region to observe an annual mean temperature anomaly outside the four warmest years on record.
Both maximum and minimum temperatures were warmer than average, although minima were less extreme than maxima. Maximum temperatures were 1.16 °C above average (fourth-warmest on record) while minimum temperatures were 0.66 °C above average (sixth-warmest on record).
Mean, maximum and minimum temperatures were in the highest 10% of observations across the southern half of Australia, extending into southern and central Queensland. Maximum and mean temperatures were also in the highest 10% of observations for much of western Queensland and northwestern Western Australia. Large areas of southeastern Australia and the South West Land Division of Western Australia observed highest-on-record annual maximum and mean temperature anomalies for the year. For the year as a whole, the entirety of southern Australia experienced very-much-above-average annual mean temperatures. 2013 was the only other year in which analyses show decile 10 annual mean temperatures for 100% of southern Australia.
For tropical northern Australia, mean temperatures were near average to above average except for an area northwest of Alice Springs which was cooler than average, associated with very-much-above-average annual rainfall; maximum temperatures were generally above average, but near to below average for an area of the central Northern Territory, crossing just over the Western Australia border; and minimum temperatures were near average except for areas in the Northern Territory around the Victoria River District, coastal Top End and a small area north of Rockhampton which were cooler than average.
Annual timeseries of percentage area of southern Australia for which mean temperatures were in the highest 10% of observations. See more information about decile timeseries.
Annual mean temperature anomalies for Australia (compared with 1961–1990 average).
The black line shows the 10-year moving average.
Comparison of recent years: data table, Comparison of recent years (PDF file)
Near-average annual rainfall nationally; dry in the east and along the west coast
National rainfall for 2014 was 13 mm, or 3%, above the 1961–1990 average (average is 465 mm). Compared to rainfall in all years since 1900 (115 years), the Australian annual total of 478 mm makes 2014 the 40th-wettest year on record, near the median or mid-point of historical observations.
Large parts of eastern Australia commenced the year with long-term rainfall deficiencies in place, due to below-average rainfall during 2013. For much of the eastern mainland, rainfall has been below average over the last two and a half years (i.e. since the 2011–12 La Niña concluded) and drought conditions have affected parts of inland and southeastern Queensland and New South Wales for the past two years. Below-average annual rainfall during 2014 has also seen rainfall deficiencies increase in parts of southeastern Australia, particularly from late winter.
Annual rainfall was below average for inland northern Queensland, southeast Queensland and northeastern New South Wales; an area focused on northeastern South Australia and small parts of central Australia; the majority of Victoria, extending into southeastern South Australia, and also small parts of southern New South Wales; all of Tasmania; and along the western coast of Western Australia between the Pilbara and Albany. Annual rainfall totals were in the lowest 10% of observations for most of western Victoria and adjacent southeastern South Australia as well as parts of coastal Tasmania, small areas in northeastern New South Wales, southeastern Queensland and central Australia. Victoria's annual rainfall has been below average for 15 of the last 18 years (1997–2014); only 2000, 2010 and 2011 observed above-average rainfall during this period, with each of these three years affected by La Niña.
Rainfall for the year was above average for the west of Queensland's Cape York Peninsula, then sweeping across from the south coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria through the southern Top End and central Northern Territory, broadening across the west of the Northern Territory and covering most of Western Australia away from the west coast. Coverage extended into southwestern South Australia, and smaller patches of southern South Australia and areas of eastern South Australia with above-average annual rainfall also recorded in far eastern Victoria and the southeastern tip of New South Wales. Western Australia and the Northern Territory observed above-average annual totals, while area-averages for the other States were below average.
National rainfall totals during 2014 reinforce the pattern of recent decades, with above-average rainfall during the peak of the summer monsoon season and below-average rainfall during the cooler half of the year.
Annual mean rainfall (mm) for Australia since 1900. The black line shows the 10-year moving average.
The state of major climate influences during 2014
The Pacific Ocean showed signs of a developing El Niño in early autumn 2014, and these conditions persisted for most of the year. While the ocean remained 'primed' for an El Niño, the atmospheric circulation failed to respond in a manner which progresses the climate system into a full El Niño. While both ocean and atmospheric indicators surpassed threshold values for sustained periods from late spring, the event did not consolidate.
Australian rainfall and temperature patterns showed some El Niño-like behaviour, including warmer and drier conditions in much of eastern Australia, spring heatwaves, and early fire-weather conditions in the southeast.
Sea surface and sub-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean remained persistently above average for much of the year. Atypical of a developing El Niño, above-average sea surface temperatures also persisted across the northern and western Pacific Basin. This pattern of sea surface temperatures may have been partly responsible for the failure of the atmospheric circulation to respond in a manner more typical of El Niño until late in the year.
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was negative for most of the year but 30-day values only remained below El Niño threshold values (−8) for periods between mid-March and early April, mid-August and late September, and again from late October until early December.
Following a brief dip into negative values during March and early April, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) rapidly entered a negative phase during mid-June and remained beyond the threshold value of −0.4 °C until the event broke down during the second half of September. Between late June and early September weekly values of the IOD index were between −0.5 °C and −0.8 °C for all but two weeks.
Sea surface temperatures in the Australian region
Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have remained high around Australia in recent years, with all five years between 2010 and 2014 within the eight warmest on record. The preliminary rank for 2014, based on January–November data, places the annual SST anomaly as the fourth-highest since 1900, 0.49 °C above the 1961–1990 average.
SSTs were unusually warm throughout the year; anomalies for all months except February were placed within the top nine on record for their respective months. SSTs were very much above average in the Great Australian Bight for the entire year. From April SSTs were also very much above average from April also extending to the southeastern coastline and across waters to Australia's west and north, although the warmth became less pronounced in the north from mid-winter. For the southern region, monthly anomalies for all months since April were within the top four, with June, September and October the warmest on record for their respective months.
Below-average annual SSTs have not been observed for the Australian region since 1994. Australian-region SSTs have seen a total increase of approximately 1 °C since 1910, very similar to the increase in temperature over land.
Annual mean sea surface temperature anomalies in the Australian region (compared with 1961–1990 average).
The black line shows the 10-year moving average.
Extreme heat and significant warm spells
From late 2013 to early 2014, much of the central and eastern interior of Australia was affected by a heatwave (see Special Climate Statement 47: An intense heatwave in central and eastern Australia). Very high temperatures developed at the top of the Great Australian Bight towards the end of December 2013, before moving into southern and central Queensland. A second pulse of hot air followed, passing from the southern interior of Western Australia to northern South Australia on New Year's Day before being driven eastward ahead of a low pressure trough on 2 January 2014. The majority of the records set during the heatwave occurred on the 3rd, and were concentrated over northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The heat retreated into the central and northern interior of Queensland by the 5th, with temperatures returning to near average over the following days.
One of the most significant multi-day heatwaves on record for southeast Australia occurred between 13 and 18 January (see Special Climate Statement 48: One of southeast Australia's most significant heatwaves). A dome of hot air developed over Western Australia in the second week of January before moving over the southeast of the continent. A near-stationary high pressure system over the Tasman Sea directed northerly winds into inland southeastern Australia, resulting in very high temperatures. A number of records were set early in the period in Western Australia and later in southeast South Australia, the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania. The event was notable for consecutive days of very high temperatures rather than for individual hot days. Melbourne endured four consecutive days of at least 41 °C, Adelaide five days of at least 42 °C and Canberra four days of at least 39 °C.
Very warm conditions returned to southern Australia during the last days of January and continued into February. Beginning on 26 January, heat emerged at the top of the Great Australian Bight and stretched from the Nullarbor to southern Victoria on the following days. Temperatures more than 10 degrees above average were observed across much of southern Australia between 30 January and 2 February. Maximum temperatures were in the 99th percentile for southeast South Australia, western Victoria and southern Tasmania on the 28th. After a brief reprieve, heat again built over the southeast from 6 February before dissipating by mid-month.
Following a brief cold period at the start of May, most of Australia was dominated by a long-lived warm spell linked to a blocking high pressure system over the Tasman Sea. Warm northerly flow dominated most of southeastern Australia, with temperatures six to eight degrees above average over large areas for many days. A number of individual locations set records for their warmest day so late in the season, but the event was especially significant because of its persistence and for unusually warm overnight temperatures (see Special Climate Statement 49: An exceptionally prolonged autumn warm spell over much of Australia). Of the 112 long-term reference temperature stations (ACORN-SAT) in Australia, 48 set May records for consecutive days above thresholds, while 12 set May records for consecutive warm nights.
Abnormal warmth returned in spring, with the season overall the warmest on record for Australia for both maximum and mean temperatures (see Special Climate Statement 50: Australia's warmest spring on record). The record set this year surpassed the standing spring record, set in 2013. The October maximum temperature was the warmest on record for Australia, largely due to persistent above-average temperatures and a notable warm period late in the month across northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. November's national maximum temperature was also a record, largely as a result of two significant heatwaves. The first affected central Australia, New South Wales, southern Queensland and the Top End around mid-month. Widespread flying fox deaths were reported during this event, with more than 5000 reported dead in Casino and 2000 in the Richmond Valley. Heat persisted in inland Queensland and central New South Wales before a low pressure trough drew hot air eastward from the 20th, bringing record maximum temperatures of 45 °C and above to western parts of Sydney. A number of records for consecutive warm days were set as prolonged heat continued for northern parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory until the end of the month.
The January heatwaves and antecedent dry conditions created circumstances favourable for bushfires. Significant fires during January included:
- Perth Hills on 12 January, affecting Parkerville, Stoneville, Hovea and Mount Helena with a total loss of 56 residential dwellings.
- Grampians National Park, in Victoria, starting on 15 January and spreading across the northern third of the Park (around 60 000 ha), also causing the death of 7000 stock animals and the destruction of at least 30 houses.
- A number of fires in East Gippsland, with several continuing well into February, of which the most significant were those around the Snowy River and Errinundra National Parks and that west of Cann River. An estimated 210 000 ha burnt in East Gippsland between 28 January and 26 February.
- The Mallee in Victoria's northwest, where 40 000 ha were burnt over a prolonged period.
- At least 16 separate significant fires in South Australia between 14 and 17 January, totalling approximately 425 000 ha with 12 houses destroyed in the Flinders Ranges, Murraylands and southern Barossa Valley. The most significant fires were the Bangor fire, in the southern Flinders Ranges, and that in the Billiatt and Ngarkat Conservations Parks.
- Extensive fire activity in New South Wales, although with smaller losses. The most notable were near Singleton in the Hunter Valley, around Bathurst, and both to the east and southeast of Wagga Wagga where 5 houses were destroyed by the Murraguldrie State Forest fire.
Fires continued into February with extensive fire activity around Melbourne and eastern Victoria as conditions worsened on the 9th. The most serious fires in the early part of the month were the Mickleham–Kilmore–Wallan fire, north of Melbourne; and fires in Warrandyte, northeast of Melbourne; Gisborne, northwest of Melbourne; East Gippsland; and the Latrobe Valley. In total, 35 properties were destroyed across Victoria, with many of those in the suburbs surrounding Melbourne.
Cumulative annual (July–June) Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) for Mildura. Parts of southeast Australia experienced record fire danger during summer 2013–14.
Early spring warmth increased fire danger across southeastern Australia. Dry fuels, combined with high temperatures and strong winds, led the Tasmania Fire Service to issue a total fire ban on 28 September, the earliest for the season since 1987. A number of small fires broke out in Tasmania while the windy conditions and warm temperatures also fanned grass fires in southeastern South Australia and western Victoria.
During the last days of October and first days of November a large number of bushfires occurred in Queensland and New South Wales, including large fires in Queensland at Ballandean, near Stanthorpe; at Hookswood, north of Miles; at Ravenshoe, inland of Innisfail; and at Ravensbourne, northeast of Toowoomba. In New South Wales, a fire in the Blue Mountains destroyed a house near Katoomba. Fires later in the month were associated with the heatwave in mid-November; more than 30 fires burnt in Queensland and more than 50 in New South Wales; while lightning on the 23rd contributed to around 90 fires alight in New South Wales.
A number of significant fires were ignited by lightning on 15 December in central and northeastern Victoria, inland of the Great Dividing Range. The four most significant were the 3500 ha Stewarton fire, northwest of Benalla; a 120 ha fire at West Wodonga; the 6800 ha Lake Rowan-Crawbys fire, between Benalla and Yarrawonga; and the 6500 ha Longwood-Creightons Creek fire south of Euroa. The latter two were still alight on the 18th, having destroyed five houses and upwards of 2000 stock animals.
There were 10 tropical cyclones in the Australian region during the 2013–14 season, slightly below the 1961–1990 average of 11.
Severe tropical cyclone Ita was the most intense storm to make landfall during 2014, crossing the coast as a category 4 system near Cooktown, in far north Queensland, on 11 April. Ita weakened rapidly as it tracked down the coast until 13 April when it moved offshore near Proserpine. Gale force winds and damaging gusts were observed along the coast, although most damage during this time was tied to rainfall and flooding. Widespread 24-hour rainfalls of over 300 mm were recorded in Queensland's North Tropical Coast and Herbert and Lower Burdekin districts. The storm also caused extensive damage to banana and sugar crops in the region.
Three other tropical cyclones made landfall in Australia during 2014: Christine, Dylan and Fletcher. Gillian made multiple landfalls as a tropical low despite having reached category 1 strength in the Gulf of Carpentaria and again strengthening after passing well to the west of Australia. Neither Fletcher nor Gillian caused significant damage.
Tropical cyclone Christine made landfall between Roebourne and Port Hedland in Western Australia as a category 3 system around midnight on 30–31 December 2013, before weakening into a tropical low. The low passed across the Pilbara and penetrated far inland before moving into South Australia, where the storm's remnants combined with a thermal low and contributed to extreme high temperatures across central Australia. The low brought rainfall along the southern coast before dissipating as it moved into southwestern New South Wales on 3 January 2014.
Dylan reached cyclone strength on 30 January and made landfall at Dingo Beach, 35 km east of Bowen on Queensland's eastern coast, early on the morning of 31 January as a category 2 system. A storm surge of about one metre coinciding with king tides of about four metres resulted in coastal inundation along the east coast of north Queensland both well ahead of the main storm and at a later tide several hours after the storm had made landfall.
Significant heavy rain, thunderstorms and flooding were observed in the west of the Northern Territory and large parts of Western Australia between 15 and 24 January associated with the passage of a tropical low. Road links were cut in parts of central Australia and northwest Western Australia as the system brought cumulative totals in excess of 100 mm to much of the Kimberley, eastern Pilbara and a broad band of inland Western Australia extending to the Nullarbor coast.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms associated with the passage of a low-level trough affected much of eastern New South Wales and Queensland between 24 and 28 March, resulting in widespread flash flooding. On the 24th, very heavy rain was reported in southern Sydney and the Illawarra, with up to 55 mm in 30 minutes at Cronulla, and daily totals of up to 297 mm at Wattamolla. On the 26th the worst damage was reported around Gladstone, Yeppoon and Rockhampton in Queensland with many sites in the southeast setting March daily rainfall records.
An East Coast Low developed off the central New South Wales coast on 17 August, causing two days of heavy rain and storm damage along the central and southern coast of New South Wales. Cumulative totals in excess of 100 mm were widespread, reaching 304 mm at Robertson on the south coast. The system also generated large waves along the southern coast with significant wave heights of four to five metres, and maximum wave heights of seven to eight metres.
Three days of heavy rain were observed across coastal New South Wales between 26 and 28 August under conditions of persistent onshore flow. Rain was heaviest on the north coast, with large areas recording two-day totals in excess of 100 mm, reaching 248.6 mm at Ballina. Minor flooding was observed in the Bellingen and Orara rivers in the northeast.
Severe storms and high winds
A series of intense low pressure systems passed south of Tasmania in the first week of January, bringing strong and damaging westerly winds, cutting power to at least 9000 premises, causing a number of road closures and significant stone fruit losses. A Tasmanian January wind gust record of 165 km/h was set at Mount Wellington on the 2nd.
Severe thunderstorms were recorded across southeast Queensland on 6 January with extensive power outages. More than 70 000 premises losing power. Wind damage, flash flooding and felled trees were reported. Severe storms again affected the Brisbane region on the afternoon and night of 23 January, causing flash flooding, power outages and commuter disruptions.
Strong to gale force southeasterly winds affected southern South Australia on 3 and 4 February, with widespread damage in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills. Power was cut to 90 000 properties, many for periods in excess of 24 hours, some in excess of 48 hours, with significant property damage and traffic disruptions also reported. Damage and clean-up costs were estimated at several million dollars.
A vigorous cold front crossed Tasmania on 9 February, bringing damaging winds and extensive thunderstorm activity to much of the State, but particularly the south. A least 70 000 properties lost power, some for over 48 hours. Hobart registered a February record gust of 130 km/h, with several other sites observing gusts in excess of 100 km/h.
On 19 February thunderstorms caused flash flooding in Canberra as falls in excess of 50 mm exceeded the average monthly total during a three-hour period in the afternoon. The worst storm damage was reported around Tuggeranong but flooding, downed trees, cut power lines and several injuries were reported across many suburbs.
New South Wales experienced severe storms on 15 and 16 March, with wind gusts exceeding 90 km/h across much of the northeast, and again on the 30th, affecting western Sydney and the Illawarra. Heavy rain and large hail was reported, with substantial roof damage to the Katoomba Hospital and the Katoomba Sports Centre and flash flooding in western Sydney.
A sequence of strong cold fronts crossed southeast Australia between 22 and 29 June, bringing gusts in excess of 90 km/h across broad regions. In central Victoria, the associated low pressure system caused a storm surge, large waves and tidal flooding. Flooding in beachside suburbs and along the Yarra River caused significant disruption to power and transport as well as widespread coastal erosion. Flash flooding was also reported in northern Tasmania. Extensive storm damage was reported Victorian, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria more than 80 000 premises lost power during this event and two deaths were associated with collapsed walls.
Cold fronts between 6 and 8 July produced strong winds, widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms in southern Western Australia and southern South Australia. A storm tide was recorded in southwest Western Australia while about 26 000 homes in Perth and the South West lost power. A subsequent cold front crossing southwest Western Australia on the 14th caused significant property damage and power outages, with three separate tornadoes reported in the western suburbs of Perth, as well as near Yallingup in the South West, and Geraldton.
From 27 July into early August a series of cold fronts embedded in a vigorous westerly stream passed over Tasmania and southern Victoria, bringing damaging winds, thunderstorms, locally heavy rain, flash flooding and moderate riverine flooding. Significant storm damage was reported in northwest Tasmania on the 28th, including lost roofs, while heavy rain on the 30th and 31st caused some flash flooding in northern Tasmania, and on 6 August further storm damage and gusts well over 100 km/h were observed in southern and northwestern Tasmania.
A strong cold front crossed southwestern Western Australia on 17 and 18 August. In Fremantle, a container ship broke its moorings and crashed into the Fremantle rail bridge, closing the rail line for inspection and repairs. A second cargo vessel also broke its moorings and hit a refuelling vessel.
A passing cold front produced severe wind gusts and high tides over southern Western Australia and South Australia between 7 and 8 September. A possible tornado was reported on 8 September southeast of Perth in Forrestfield and an apartment block southwest of Perth in Attadale lost its roof.
Thunderstorms producing large hail and severe wind gusts were reported in Sydney and southeast Queensland and parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields districts on 25 September and in Queensland's Southeast Coast district and the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales on 27 September.
In the final days of September a series of strong cold fronts brought high temperatures and severe weather across much of southern Australia. Strong to gale force northwest winds were recorded across much of southeast South Australia on the 28th, causing widespread power disruptions and some property damage. Power was also cut to about 7000 premises in southern Tasmania on the same day. On the 29th and 30th southern Victoria was affected by strong to gale force winds with extensive storms in the Melbourne region. Storm damage, flash flooding, heavy hail and extensive power outages were reported with the SES receiving 1800 calls over the two days, mostly from Melbourne's inner-north, east and southeast. A lightning strike at Camberwell caused extensive delays for trains on the eastern lines, with heavy hail in the eastern suburbs and flooded tracks in the inner north and east exacerbating issues.
An East Coast Low affected the south coast of New South Wales on 14 and 15 October, producing strong winds, heavy rain and high seas. October daily rainfall records were set in parts of southern Sydney and flash flooding trapped a passenger train at Bexley. The SES received 2265 calls and performed 85 flood rescues. Later in the month the SES received 100 calls following damage associated with strong winds in western Sydney and the Central Tablelands on the 27th.
Thunderstorms producing heavy rain and large hail were also common along the east coast during November. Thunderstorms on the 1st affected eastern New South Wales with damage reported across western and southern Sydney; storms on the 5th produced large hail reported across much of central eastern New South Wales with widespread power outages in Sydney and crop damage around Comboyne; very severe thunderstorms in Brisbane on the 27th brought flash flooding, tennis-ball-sized hail and destructive winds reported across the metropolitan region, resulting in 39 injuries, power loss to around 100 000 properties and preliminary estimates of a damage bill in excess of 1 billion dollars.
In December notable storms including those on the 6th and 7th in areas west of Sydney, northern Sydney and between the Australian Capital Territory and the coast, resulting in flash flooding, which trapped several people, and widespread storm damage over the two days. A hailstorm hit the Hobart area on the afternoon of the 16th, bringing hail stones of one to two centimetres, flash flooding and some minor damage.
Snow and cold temperatures
A series of cold fronts in late June brought substantial snowfall to the alpine regions of New South Wales and Victoria, elevated regions of Tasmania and the highest peaks of South Australia's Mount Lofty Ranges. Snow settled at altitudes as low as 700 m in the alpine regions as well as the Brindabellas in the Australian Capital Territory on 24–25 July and again on the 29th–30th. Snow depths at Spencers Creek (elevation 1830 m) increased by 88 cm between 19 and 26 June, the largest weekly increase since July 2011. The heavy snowfall contributed to the death of a child at Mount Buller in northeast Victoria.
In July, the passage of a cold front on the 16th and 17th produced snow across the New South Wales Tablelands, falling to as low as 600 m in parts of the central and southern districts, and 800 m in the northern Tablelands. A depth of 3 cm was reported at Guyra, inland of Coffs Harbour. Snow and black ice also led to the closure of Orange Airport and the Great Western Highway between Bathurst and Lithgow.
During the first few days of August one of the more significant cold outbreaks of the last decade occurred in southeastern Australia. Snow fell across Tasmania, settling overnight and on the morning of 1 August at altitudes as low as 300 m in the south and below 400 m in the northwest. Many elevated roads were closed by snow, which was at least 20 cm deep in some places. Widespread, severe frosts were observed across southeastern Australia, with several consecutive days of frost causing extensive damage to crops in some regions inland of the Great Dividing Range.
Another cold outbreak on 10 August brought snow to Tasmania, settling at altitudes as low as 200 m in the south and to depths of over 15 cm in some areas. Several elevated roads were closed due to ice and snow. Three walkers were rescued early on the morning of the 11th from Collins Cap, northwest of Hobart, after becoming lost in deteriorating weather on the evening of the 10th.
Accessing Australia's climate change datasets
The Bureau collects, manages and safeguards Australia's climate archive. Several datasets have been developed from this archive to identify, monitor and attribute changes in the Australian climate. You can access these datasets on our website.
This statement has been prepared using the homogenised Australian temperature dataset (ACORN-SAT) for area-averaged values and the observational dataset (AWAP) for area-averaged rainfall values and mapped analysis for both temperature and rainfall.