Monday, 5 January 2009 - Annual Climate Summary for Tasmania - Product code IDCKGC27R0

Tasmania in 2008: another warm, dry year - but with local frosts and heavy rain

Rainfall was below average for almost all of Tasmania in 2008, even in the northeast which had some heavy falls in February, November and December. Most months were warmer than normal, but there were still some very low temperatures and damaging frosts. One of the most significant weather events came when a low passed close to the state early in April, bringing destructive winds to many areas.

A statement on Australia's climate for 2008 has also been prepared, as are summaries for other states. An archive of previous annual summaries for Tasmania is available, along with many other climate summaries and diagnostics.

Rainfall

Most months of 2008 were drier than average in most areas, with January, May and October among the driest. February, September and November were generally wet months, although even then there were pockets of the state that missed out on significant rain. Rain for the year was below average in almost all areas, and very much below average in many regions. Most areas were wetter than 2007 or the record-dry 2006, but almost the entire state has just had its driest 36 months on record. The wettest overall was 2604.2 mm at Lake Margaret Power Station (Mount Read probably received even more, but was not operating for part of the year). Some sites in the southeast and the Midlands had less than 350 mm for the whole year.
The mean rainfall over Tasmania in 2008 was 986 mm, which is 84% of and 182 mm below the 1961−1990 reference period average of 1168 mm, but well above the exceptionally dry 876 mm of 2006. These numbers must be used with caution, as Tasmania's total rainfall figures are dominated by the high values in the western highlands and most of the state had less than 1000 mm for the year.

Temperatures

Tasmania experiences a wide range of temperatures every year, and 2008 was no exception, from nights below −10°C to days up to 38°C. Averaging out all the day-to-day variation, the mean temperature over Tasmania in 2008 was 10.5°C, 0.1°C above the 1961−1990 reference period average of 10.4 °C. This is cooler than the 11.1°C of 2007, but still puts it in the top 20 warmest years in Tasmania since 1910 (when comparable records begin). Most of Tasmania's warm years have occurred in recent decades, but there is still considerable variability from year to year. These mean temperatures are an average of the maximum and minimum daily temperatures.

Maximum temperatures

Daytime temperatures were above average in most months, sometimes approaching or even exceeding records, but February, July and December were cooler than average in most areas. There were some especially hot days in January and again in March, and warm days scattered through the year, but there were also several cold days that brought snow to the highlands, especially in winter.
Taken over the whole year, maximum temperatures were generally warmer than average, although mostly by less than half a degree and with a few sites coming in slightly cooler than average.
The hottest day was 38.0°C at Campania (Kincora) on 14 March, followed by 37.7°C at Ouse Fire Station on 10 January. The warmest days on average were were 18.7°C at Campania (Kincora), followed by 18.6°C at Bushy Park and Launceston (Ti Tree Bend). Mount Wellington had the coldest day of the year, reaching just −2.6°C on 21 July, and also the coolest days on average with a mean of 8.1°C for the year.

Minimum temperatures

February, July, August and December were mostly cooler than average by night, but nights in January, May, June and October were mostly warmer than average. There were some very cold and frosty nights from May to November. On the morning of 4 July Liawenee fell to −10.2°C, the coldest temperature recorded in Tasmania since May 2006. Liawenee also dropped below −9 °C on 5th and 30th of July, and on the 5th of November dipped to −6.8°C, the coldest November temperature that has been recorded in Tasmania.
Taken over the whole year, minimum temperatures were generally within half a degree of average, with most sites a little below average but the main population centres slightly above average.
Liawenee had the coldest nights on average at 1.0 °C, whilst the warmest nights on average were at Swan Island with 11.2°C. The temperature did not drop below 20.2°C at Hobart Airport in the 24 hours to 9 am on 6 January, and the same at Flinders Island Airport to 9 am on 27 January, just two of several very mild nights reported during the year.

Strong winds

A very deep low pressure system passed close to Tasmania bringing with it destructive winds from late on 2 April until early on the 3rd. Gusts well over 100 km/h were recorded at several locations. There were widespread reports of damage, particularly in Hobart's eastern shore suburbs. The atmospheric pressure at Maatsuyker Island dipped to 966.3 hPa, the lowest recorded in Tasmania since November 1994.
June was another windy month, and on the morning of 26 June Hogan Island (in Bass Strait) recorded a gust to 180 km/h, the third-strongest gust recorded using standard instruments in Tasmania (the strongest are both on Mount Wellington: 200 km/h in March 1998 and 193 km/h in August 2004).

Month by month

  • January was the driest on record for many parts of Tasmania, particularly in the west and south. Only northern parts of the East Coast received near average rainfall for the month. January was also very warm, especially during the first two weeks. Some cooler weather was felt during the second part of the month, but there were very few really cold days.
  • February brought several significant rain events, including some very heavy falls that brought flash flooding to the northeast, and were enough to ensure most of Tasmania was wetter than average that month. Although there were a few hot days, there were many more cool days; February was much cooler than either January or the previous December.
  • March saw a warm spell that ran from the 6th to the 18th, although cold weather in the final five days was also memorable. There were some moderate to heavy rainfalls near the end of the month, but most areas were somewhat drier than normal.
  • April's weather was mostly settled, under the influence of high pressure systems, leading to rainfall that was below average in most areas (and very much below average on the East Coast). But there were destructive winds from a very deep low pressure system close to the state early in the month and a cold burst in the last few days of the month.
  • May was another dry month for most of Tasmania, with only some parts of the north and west receiving near average rainfall. Thunderstorms on the 26th were the major source of rainfall in the north. Most days were warmer than normal, except for a period from the 21st to 27th. The morning of the 22nd was particularly cold.
  • June was another very dry month in eastern Tasmania and even though there were some wet days in other parts of the state, most areas had less than average June rain. Temperatures were above average overall (with some places having their warmest June on record), but there were some very cold and frosty nights and snowy weather. Westerly winds were dominant, and there was a burst of exceptionally strong winds near the end of the month.
  • July had several low pressure systems passing close to Tasmania which brought rain (and some snow) across the state at different times during the month. It was cooler than usual for most of the month, with several bursts of cold winds and snow, however a lack of sustained westerly winds meant the West Coast had less than average rain.
  • August was drier and cooler than usual, and also markedly cooler than August 2007. Although a number of fronts crossed the state, rainfall was below average in most areas, especially in the east and through the Midlands. Snow fell somewhere in the state on about half the days in August, and settled to low levels on two occasions.
  • September saw average or above rainfall across the state, except in the southeast and through northern parts of Bass Strait. There were many windy days, as is typical for this time of the year. Days were sometimes warm and sometimes cool, and nights were extremely cold at the start of the month.
  • October rainfall was well down on average, with many sites in the Midlands, the Derwent Valley and the north having their driest October on record. Several warm days and nights kept the temperature means above average, but did not prevent a severe frost affecting several parts of the state on the morning of the 23rd.
  • November was dominated by low pressure systems, which lead to above average rainfall across most of the state (except in the west), cooler than normal days and near average nights.
  • December brought the year to a relatively cool end, with very few warm days and some especially cold nights at the start. A low pressure system on the 13th brought flooding rain to the northeast, but rainfall for the rest of the state was mostly near average.

Further information

Ian Barnes-Keoghan
Meteorologist
Tasmania and Antarctica Climate Services Centre
Bureau of Meteorology
Phone (03) 6221 2043
Email climate.tas@bom.gov.au

Extremes

Hottest day
Highest temperature
38.0°C at Campania (Kincora) on 14 Mar
Warmest days on average
Highest mean daily maximum temperature
18.7°C at Campania (Kincora)
18.6°C at Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates)
18.6°C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest days on average
Lowest mean daily maximum temperature
8.1°C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day
Lowest daily maximum temperature
−2.6°C at Mount Wellington on 21 Jul
Coldest night
Lowest temperature
−10.2°C at Liawenee on 4 Jul
Coolest nights on average
Lowest mean daily minimum temperature
1.0°C at Liawenee
Warmest nights on average
Highest mean daily minimum temperature
11.2°C at Swan Island
Warmest night
Highest daily minimum temperature
20.2°C at Hobart Airport on 6 Jan
20.2°C at Flinders Island Airport on 27 Jan
Wettest overall
Highest total rainfall
2604.2 mm at Lake Margaret Power Station
Driest overall
Lowest total rainfall
320.0 mm at Tunbridge (Austin-Vale)
Wettest day
Highest daily rainfall
144.4 mm at Chain of Lagoons on 5 Feb
Highest wind gusts
180 km/h at Hogan Island on 26 Jun
169 km/h at Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse on 2 Apr


Records

Lowest total annual rainfall for at least 20 years
Total rainfall
for 2008 (mm)
Most recent lower
annual
Years since
lower
Annual
average
Premaydena Hatchery 570.2 559.2 in 1950 56 786.1
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 778.8 699.6 in 1963 45 947.0


Summaries

In this table, key sites have been highlighted to make them easier to find. This table is very wide and may not fit if printed.


Summary statistics for 2008
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2008
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2008
Mean
for
2008
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2008
Total
for
2008
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2008
Fraction
of annual
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport 17.3 −0.2 29.0 14 Mar 9.0 −0.1 −0.1 3 Sep 730.3 705.9 average 103%
Burnie 17.2 +0.4 29.6 1 Jan 10.0 +0.8 2.2 4 Jul 701.6 953.6 very low 74%
Cape Grim BAPS 15.7 +0.1 26.2 5 Feb 10.4 −0.2 3.3 29 Jul 724.0 736.0 average 98%
Cressy Research Station 18.0 35.1 1 Jan 5.3 −6.3 22 May 510.0
Devonport Airport 17.1 +0.4 30.1 11 Jan 8.3 +0.2 −1.3 22 Aug 560.1 768.0 very low 73%
Launceston 18.6 +0.2 32.9 17 Mar 7.4 +0.3 −2.4 4 Jul 556.4 666.1 low 84%
Launceston Airport 17.9 34.6 17 Mar 6.0 −3.7 22 May 476.0
Launceston Airport Comparison 17.2 +0.2 33.2 17 Mar 6.4 +0.2 −3.7 22 May
Low Head 16.5 0.0 24.8 4 Mar 10.4 0.0 2.1 4 Jul 595.6 640.9 low 93%
Luncheon Hill 14.8 −0.8 32.4 17 Mar 6.6 −0.9 −1.3 22 Aug 1283.2 1501.3 very low 85%
Marrawah 16.1 +0.1 29.5 16 Mar 9.4 +0.1 2.3 22 Aug 938.4 1060.1 low 89%
Scottsdale 17.0 −0.3 31.9 1 Jan 7.0 −0.1 −2.4 13 Aug 719.4 986.2 very low 73%
Sheffield School Farm 15.8 −0.3 30.5 17 Mar 6.4 −0.4 −2.3 29 Jul
Smithton Aerodrome 17.3 +0.2 30.1 14 Mar 7.6 −0.1 −2.6 29 Jul 779.8 878.2 low 89%
Wynyard Airport 17.4 +0.7 31.8 1 Jan 7.2 +0.3 −2.4 4 Jul 807.9 971.0 low 83%
East Coast (district 92)
Bicheno 18.1 +0.3 36.4 11 Jan 9.5 +0.1 1.7 4 Sep 697.8 678.7 average 103%
Eddystone Point 18.0 +1.0 30.7 14 Mar 10.4 0.0 2.2 13 Aug 720.6 764.6 average 94%
Fingal 17.8 +0.1 35.7 16 Mar 5.0 −0.2 −8.1 22 May 473.0 605.3 low 78%
Friendly Beaches 18.1 −0.2 36.4 11 Jan 9.0 −0.4 −1.1 22 May 650.8
Lake Leake 14.2 +0.4 32.6 17 Mar 3.3 −0.7 −8.3 22 May 511.2 828.0 very low 62%
Maria Island 17.0 33.5 11 Jan 10.0 2.5 22 Jul 373.4
Orford 17.6 0.0 34.9 14 Mar 7.8 +0.1 −1.6 5 Jul 426.4 664.2 very low 64%
Scamander 17.9 −0.1 34.3 11 Jan 8.8 +0.1 −0.2 13 Aug 794.8 666.8 high 119%
St Helens Aerodrome 17.7 34.4 16 Mar 8.6 −0.3 4 Jul 785.0
Swan Island 16.8 29.7 14 Mar 11.2 3.5 23 Aug 745.2
Swansea Post Office 18.1 +0.3 36.8 16 Mar 7.6 −0.2 −1.5 10 Sep 401.7 591.9 low 68%
Midlands (district 93)
Ross 17.8 +0.3 35.3 17 Mar 5.4 −0.1 −6.9 22 May 404.2 476.1 low 85%
Southeast (district 94)
Campania 18.7 38.0 14 Mar 7.0 −2.8 17 Jun
Cape Bruny 15.9 0.0 34.6 14 Mar 8.9 −0.4 2.1 13 Aug 592.0
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 15.3 +0.4 34.0 14 Mar 8.9 +0.2 3.0 5 Jul 778.8 945.7 low 82%
Dover 16.3 −0.1 36.0 14 Mar 6.2 −0.7 −2.1 25 Jul
Geeveston 16.8 0.0 35.4 14 Mar 5.8 −0.2 −3.9 5 Jul 699.8 869.0 very low 81%
Grove 17.5 +0.4 37.1 14 Mar 5.5 −0.3 −5.5 22 May 524.8 737.9 very low 71%
Grove 17.4 37.2 14 Mar 4.9 −6.0 22 May 553.0
Hobart 17.9 +1.0 37.3 14 Mar 8.6 +0.3 0.3 30 Jul 406.8 615.0 very low 66%
Hobart Airport 18.0 +0.5 37.0 14 Mar 8.0 0.0 −0.4 17 Jun 327.8 493.6 very low 66%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 13.8 −0.1 32.4 17 Mar 8.8 +0.2 1.0 13 Aug 888.3 1228.5 very low 72%
Melton Mowbray 17.4 0.0 37.2 17 Mar 5.8 −0.2 −5.0 22 May 333.6 429.3 very low 78%
Mount Wellington 8.1 +0.5 26.7 10 Jan 1.1 −0.2 −7.5 13 Aug
Tasman Island 14.2 32.8 14 Mar 8.5 0.4 13 Aug 702.0
Tunnack Fire Station 15.3 0.0 35.2 16 Mar 4.8 −0.3 −5.9 22 May 451.6 591.3 low 76%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park 18.6 +0.9 37.4 10 Jan 5.1 −0.8 −6.0 22 May 367.6 574.4 very low 64%
Maydena Post Office 15.8 −0.3 35.2 17 Mar 5.1 −0.1 −3.2 22 Aug 954.9 1182.4 very low 81%
Ouse Fire Station 18.2 37.7 10 Jan 5.0 −6.3 22 May 414.6
Tarraleah Village 32.3 17 Mar 3.9 +0.3 −3.9 5 Jul 1030.2 1160.9 average 89%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Lake St Clair National Park 13.1 0.0 30.9 10 Jan 2.3 −0.4 −6.5 22 Aug 1630.2 1860.3 low 88%
Liawenee 11.7 28.9 1 Jan 1.0 −10.2 4 Jul
West Coast (district 97)
Hartz Mountain 11.2 31.3 10 Jan 3.5 −3.6 13 Aug
Mount Read 8.2 −0.5 25.6 10 Jan 2.4 −0.3 −4.9 22 Aug
Scotts Peak Dam 14.8 35.2 10 Jan 5.8 −1.6 30 Jul
Strahan Aerodrome 16.4 +0.1 34.3 17 Mar 7.6 −0.2 −1.2 22 Aug 1496.8
Strathgordon Village 14.0 0.0 31.2 14 Mar 6.0 −0.3 −2.0 29 Jul 2319.1 2519.7 low 92%
Warra 13.5 32.1 16 Mar 5.0 −2.3 30 Jul 1576.0
King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 17.2 +0.4 36.4 17 Mar 9.6 −0.2 0.7 29 Jul 844.0 855.8 average 99%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 18.2 +0.5 35.6 11 Jan 9.5 −0.2 −2.1 23 Aug 575.5 745.9 low 77%
Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 6.5 0.0 11.0 24 Feb 3.2 +0.1 −5.5 24 Jun 1101.2 964.7 very high 114%


Notes

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 10 am on 5 January 2009. 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 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.


Further information

Ian Barnes-Keoghan
Meteorologist
Tasmania and Antarctica Climate Services Centre
Bureau of Meteorology
Phone (03) 6221 2043
Email climate.tas@bom.gov.au