Tasmania in 2009: Wet and warm

Tasmania experienced a wide range of weather through 2009, but it was the abundance of wet weather and some record-breaking hot days that characterised the year.

  • Wetter than usual, especially in the southeast
  • Widespread and frequent flooding, mainly from June to September
  • Record hot temperatures
  • Warm overall but still some cold days

Much wetter than recent years

After three "dry" years, 2009 was wetter than usual across almost all of Tasmania. Not since 1996 has there been such widespread wet conditions across the state. Several sites in the southeast had their wettest year on record or their wettest year since the 1970s, and some had one and a half times their usual rainfall. Hobart received 862 mm, making it the sixth wettest year since records began in 1882 and the wettest year since 1958. Hobart was also over 100 mm wetter than any other year since 1975, and over 500 mm wetter than 2006 (the driest year on record). 

Months with above average rainfall were common throughout the year, but particularly between June and September and many sites in the east had their wettest winter on record. There were still periods of dry weather in parts of the state: for example much of the east and northeast had the driest January in 40 or 50 years, King Island had its driest February on record and some sites in the west had their driest October on record. The lowest rainfall total for the year was 518 mm at Tunbridge, but most of the state received more than 700 mm and more than half of the state had over a metre of rain. Strathgordon Village was the wettest location, receiving a total of 2765 mm (although the normally very wet Mt Read was out of action for several months during the year).

Heavy rain and lots of flooding

A large contribution to the wet year came from several two- to three-day events with very heavy rain that caused flooding, road closures and damage to infrastructure. Over 30 sites had at least one daily rainfall total in excess of 100 mm, including Bream Creek (140 mm), Nugent (137 mm), Copping (135 mm) and Strathgordon (125 mm) who had their highest daily rainfall on record. Flooding was common between June and September after heavy rain in the east on 3-7 June, 25-26 June, 11-13 August and 22-23 September and in the north on 11-12 July. One of the wettest Augusts on record and a record wet September in the east led to repeated flooding of many rivers in the east and north until early October. Almost all rivers in the state flooded at some time during August or September, with a major flood in the South Esk River on 13 August. More heavy rain fell in the east on 28-29 November, including 150 mm at Maria Island (Darlington) on 29 November — the highest daily total for the year.

Tasmania's hottest day

Between the 28th and 31st of January a heatwave affected northern Tasmania. Hot tropical air was directed over the southern mainland and then onto Tasmania by a slow-moving high pressure system in the Tasman Sea and an intense tropical low off the northwest coast of Western Australia. The previous state record of 40.8 C, set in Hobart on 4 January 1976, was broken when Flinders Island Airport reached 41.5 C on 29 January 2009. But the record only lasted for one day — it was beaten by Ross (41.6), St Helens (41.8) and Scamander (42.2) on the 30th. The temperatures at Cressy (41.4) and Fingal (41.3) on the 30th also exceeded the old Tasmanian record. Several other sites, mostly in the north, had their hottest day on record between the 29th and 31st, with many beating the previous record by 2 or 3 degrees on multiple days. Seven of the eight highest temperatures ever recorded in Tasmania occurred on the 29th and 30th, and eight sites reached 40 C, a mark which had only been reached on 16 previous occasions in the state’s recorded history. 

Overnight temperatures were also very warm between 29 and 31 January. The warmest was the night of the 29th, when a cloudband crossed the state overnight and inhibited cooling. Several sites had their warmest night on record, and Melton Mowbray's 24.0 C was the warmest night for the year.

A very warm year

Temperatures in nearly every month of 2009 were warmer than usual, especially in November (which was the warmest on record for Tasmania) and August (when almost every site had its warmest August nights on record). Annual mean maximum temperatures were mostly about half a degree above normal, though somewhat less in the southeast. Launceston had the warmest days on average (18.9 C), and was at least 0.5 C warmer than all other sites. Mean overnight temperatures were half to one degree above normal in most areas, and Launceston, Hobart Airport and Fingal equalled their highest mean daily minimum temperature on record

Despite being warm overall, there were still some very cold days and nights. Many of the coldest temperatures were in July; the coldest day was -2.3 C at Mount Wellington on the 6th and the coldest night was -8.6 C at Liawenee on the 17th. Liawenee had three other nights below -7 C in July, and only one during the rest of the year (30 April). The cold temperatures at the end of April were unprecedented for the time of year and many records were broken. There was also some late season frost in October. One of the most significant snow days of the year was 10 June, when snow settled as low as 300 metres in the south and forced the closure of many roads in the north and west.

Tornadoes, thunderstorms and damaging winds

A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the north of the state on 15 April causing widespread damage, some of which suggested tornadoes were present. Winds gusted to 194 km/h at Scottsdale; the strongest gust for the state in 2009 and the second-strongest gust ever measured in Tasmania (the strongest is 200 km/h on Mount Wellington). Other days when damaging winds affected the state included 22 January (when winds fanned severe bushfires and whipped up a rare dust storm in the south), 27 September (when unclimatologically strong southerly winds caused widespread damage) and several days in August (which was one of the windiest months on record by many measures and Maatsuyker Island had a record gust of 174 km/h).

Severe thunderstorms developed on a number of days: tennis-ball sized hail fell in the northeast on 31 January, damaging winds and large hail affected parts of western, southern and central areas on 23 February and thunderstorms caused localised heavy rain and flash flooding on 20 February (in the northern Midlands and northeast), 14 March (in Hobart) and 16 November (in Launceston).

Month by month

  • January was very warm in the northeast, and a new record was set for Tasmania's highest temperature (42.2 C at Scamander). There was also damaging winds and a dust storm in the south on the 22nd and tennis-ball sized hail in the northeast on the 31st.
  • February saw severe thunderstorms in parts of the west and south on the 23rd followed by heavy rain on the 24th. It was the first month of above average rainfall in the southeast.
  • March was wetter than usual across the state, with flash flooding in Hobart on the 14th.
  • April brought widespread wind damage across the north on the 15th and some tornadoes. Winds in Scottsdale gusted to 194 km/h — the second-strongest gust on record for Tasmania. The end of the month was very cold for so early in the year.
  • May had a marked rainfall gradient across the state — over 500 mm fell in the west compared to less than 10 mm in parts of the east. Conditions were wild, wet and windy in the west and south between the 14th and 17th.
  • June brought heavy rain to the east which caused many days of flooding. There was less snow than normal, though falls did settle to 300 metres in the south on the 10th.
  • July saw even more heavy rain and flooding, though this time in the north and west, along with several very cold nights. Liawenee fell below -7 C four times.
  • August was wetter than usual in nearly all of Tasmania, with frequent flooding in the north and east. Winds were strong and gusty on most days, making it the windiest August on record by many measures. Overnight temperatures were record warm for the time of the year.
  • September was another wet month and flooding continued in many areas. Strong southerly winds on the 27th caused widespread damage.
  • October was drier than usual, especially in the west, with little wind and some late season frost.
  • November was the warmest on record for Tasmania, after many hot days and few cold nights. Heavy rain fell in many areas on the 28th and 29th, including 150 mm in one day at Maria Island (Darlington) — the highest daily total for the year.
  • December was cool at the start and warm at the end. Many sites in the south had their warmest day of 2009 on the 31st, and the year finished with a spectacular lightning show in the southeast during the countdown to midnight.



Maps
MeanAnomalyDeciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of mean daily maximum temperature Map of mean daily maximum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily maximum temperature deciles
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of mean daily minimum temperature Map of mean daily minimum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily minimum temperature deciles
Total
rainfall
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles

These maps are just a small selection of those available as part of AWAP – the Australian Water Availability Project.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries

Extremes in 2009
Hottest day 42.2 C at Scamander on 30 Jan
Warmest days on average 18.9 C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest days on average 8.2 C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day -2.3 C at Mount Wellington on 6 Jul
Coldest night -8.6 C at Liawenee on 17 Jul
Coolest nights on average 1.5 C at Mount Wellington
Warmest nights on average 11.8 C at Hogan Island
Warmest night 24.0 C at Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) on 30 Jan
Wettest overall 2765.4 mm at Strathgordon Village
Driest overall 517.8 mm at Tunbridge (Austin-Vale)
Wettest day 150.0 mm at Maria Island (Darlington) on 29 Nov
Highest wind gust 194 km/h at Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) on 15 Apr

Record highest daily rainfall

Highest daily rainfall
in 2009 (mm)
Previous annual
highest
Years of
record
Bream Creek (Stroud) 140.0 on 5 Jun 127.0 on 26 Mar 1946 92
Copping 134.8 on 5 Jun 123.7 on 2 Feb 1971 43
Strathgordon (Gordon Power Station) 125.0 on 24 Feb 113.6 on 19 Sep 1994 39
Nugent (Twilight Valley) 137.0 on 26 Jun 117.2 on 19 Dec 1995 27




Record highest annual rainfall

Total rainfall
for 2009 (mm)
Previous annual
highest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 1172.0 1164.9 in 1996 34 878.2
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 844.2 829.4 in 1996 26 606.7
Risdon Vale (Poplar Road) 839.6 789.4 in 1971 26 559.2
Nugent (Twilight Valley) 1403.0 1149.2 in 1995 24 822.9
Tea Tree (The Point) 789.0 787.2 in 1996 23 537.7
Blackmans Bay Treatment Plant 832.6 791.4 in 1996 20 619.3

Highest annual rainfall for at least 20 years

Total rainfall
for 2009 (mm)
Most recent higher
annual
Years since
higher
Annual
average
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 862.2 928.9 in 1958 51 616.9
Levendale 1122.2 1293.4 in 1970 39 754.6
Dover 1076.0 1147.9 in 1970 38 879.8
Orford (Aubin Court) 963.5 1140.1 in 1970 38 674.3
Copping 1101.0 1165.3 in 1970 35 774.1
Swansea Post Office 761.0 830.2 in 1974 35 593.0
Hobart Airport 689.0 735.4 in 1975 34 497.4
Lewis Hill (St Pauls River) 856.6 921.8 in 1974 32 630.8
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 1050.8 1102.0 in 1978 30 830.3
Fort Direction 699.4 703.0 in 1971 25 534.1
Woodbridge 1184.0 1236.2 in 1958 25 904.9
Premaydena Hatchery 1005.2 1051.0 in 1985 22 786.8


Record highest temperature

Highest temperature
in 2009 (C)
Previous annual
highest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Flinders Island Airport 41.5 on 29 Jan 38.8 on 25 Jan 2003 48 17.7
Burnie (Round Hill) 33.8 on 31 Jan 32.8 on 20 Jan 1982 45 16.9
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 37.7 on 30 Jan 35.9 on 1 Feb 1983 39 17.3
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 39.0 on 30 Jan 35.4 on 11 Jan 1982 29 18.4
Scamander 42.2 on 30 Jan 39.8 on 1 Feb 1983 27 18.0
Wynyard Airport 35.1 on 31 Jan 32.6 on 3 Feb 2000 25 16.8
Fingal (Legge Street) 41.3 on 30 Jan 38.0 on 25 Jan 2003 24 17.7
Cape Grim BAPS 30.5 on 29 Jan 29.0 on 25 Jan 2003 21 15.6
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 36.2 on 30 Jan 33.9 on 25 Jan 2003 20 13.8



Record highest daily minimum temperature

Highest daily minimum
temperature
in 2009 (C)
Previous annual
highest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 21.3 on 30 Jan 20.0 on 21 Jan 1997 39 7.1
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 20.9 on 30 Jan 20.3 on 14 Jan 1998 29 7.2
Tarraleah Village 20.9 on 30 Jan 20.7 on 12 Dec 1998 28 3.6
Fingal (Legge Street) 20.9 on 30 Jan 19.5 on 9 Feb 2001 24 5.2
Cape Grim BAPS 20.9 on 30 Jan 19.8 on 18 Feb 2007 21 10.6




Record highest annual mean daily minimum temperature

Mean daily minimum
temperature
for 2009 (C)
Previous annual
highest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Hobart Airport 9.0 = 9.0 in 1988 50 8.1
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 8.2 = 8.2 in 2007 24 7.2
Fingal (Legge Street) 6.3 = 6.3 in 1988 22 5.2





Summary statistics for 2009

Maximum temperatures
(C)
Minimum temperatures
(C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2009
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2009
Mean
for
2009
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2009
Total
for
2009
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2009
Fraction
of annual
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport (Sea View Villas) 17.5 +0.1 31.0 30 Jan 9.3 +0.2 1.2 7 Jul 795.7 722.7 average 110%
Burnie (Round Hill) 17.5 +0.6 33.8 31 Jan 10.3 +1.1 2.0 7 Jul 840.2 955.5 low 88%
Cape Grim BAPS 15.8 +0.2 30.5 29 Jan 10.7 +0.1 3.4 7 Jul



Cressy Research Station 18.4   41.4 30 Jan 6.4   -4.7 18 May 671.4


Devonport Airport 17.3 +0.5 29.7 29 Jan 9.0 +0.9 -0.5 7 Jul 682.8 766.3 average 89%
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 18.9 +0.5 39.0 30 Jan 8.2 +1.0 -2.3 17 Jul 746.3 670.1 high 111%
Launceston Airport 18.1   40.4 30 Jan 6.8   -3.5 17 Jul 752.6


Low Head 16.6 +0.1 26.3 29 Jan 10.9 +0.5 1.2 7 Jul 702.2 646.2 average 109%
Marrawah 16.4 +0.3 33.0 29 Jan 9.7 +0.4 2.0 7 Jul 1174.8 1063.2 high 110%
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 17.5 +0.2 37.7 30 Jan 7.6 +0.5 -0.8 31 Jul 943.6 984.9 average 96%
Sheffield School Farm 16.5 +0.4 37.1 30 Jan 6.9 +0.1 -2.5 17 Jul 1184.2


Smithton Aerodrome 17.4 +0.2 36.6 30 Jan 8.0 +0.3 -2.4 7 Jul 958.0 885.5 high 108%
Wynyard Airport 17.8 +1.0 35.1 31 Jan 7.7 +0.8 -2.4 7 Jul 1006.3 973.6 high 103%
East Coast (district 92)
Eddystone Point 18.2 +1.1 35.1 29 Jan 10.8 +0.4 2.7 7 Jul 845.4 765.5 high 110%
Fingal (Legge Street) 18.0 +0.3 41.3 30 Jan 6.3 +1.1 -4.8 30 Apr 726.0 606.3 high 120%
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 14.2 +0.4 36.2 30 Jan 4.5 +0.5 -5.9 29 Apr 1050.8 830.3 high 127%
Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 16.8   30.9 30 Jan 10.5   4.3 24 Jul 762.0


Orford (Aubin Court) 17.5 -0.1 36.7 30 Jan 8.7 +0.9 -1.0 8 Jul 963.5 674.3 v high 143%
Scamander 18.2 +0.2 42.2 30 Jan 9.5 +0.7 0.5 18 Jul 787.0 666.5 high 118%
St Helens Aerodrome 18.1   41.8 30 Jan 9.4   -0.4 18 Jul 862.2


Swansea Post Office 18.0 +0.1 35.3 31 Dec 8.2 +0.4 -1.8 24 Jul 761.0 593.0 high 128%
Midlands (district 93)
Ross (The Boulevards) 17.9 +0.3 41.6 30 Jan 6.7 +1.2 -4.0 29 Apr 604.6 484.2 high 125%
Southeast (district 94)
Campania (Kincora) 18.3   38.6 30 Jan 7.7   -1.4 30 Apr 678.0


Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 15.8 -0.1 36.1 31 Dec 9.3 +0.1 2.6 8 Jul 934.6


Cape Bruny Lighthouse 15.3 +0.5 35.2 31 Dec 9.4 +0.6 3.0 8 Jul



Dover     37.3 31 Dec 6.8 0.0 -2.0 30 Apr 1076.0 879.8 v high 122%
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 17.0 +0.2 37.0 31 Dec 6.8 +0.7 -2.8 30 Apr 1172.0 878.2 highest 133%
Grove (Research Station) 17.2   37.1 31 Dec 6.3   -3.5 18 Jul 1051.6


Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 17.6 +0.7 38.3 31 Dec 9.1 +0.8 0.5 8 Jul 862.2 616.9 v high 140%
Hobart Airport 17.6 +0.1 37.1 31 Dec 9.0 +0.9 1.3 30 Apr 689.0 497.4 v high 139%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 14.0 +0.1 30.4 31 Dec 9.2 +0.6 3.7 27 Aug 1097.8 1229.7 average 89%
Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 17.1 -0.3 38.3 30 Jan 6.8 +0.9 -3.3 29 Apr 597.0 442.2 v high 135%
Mount Wellington 8.2 +0.6 27.7 30 Jan 1.5 +0.2 -6.2 10 Jun



Tunnack Fire Station 15.0 -0.3 36.9 30 Jan 5.6 +0.5 -4.1 30 Apr 982.2 624.6 v high 157%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 18.3 +0.7 38.6 30 Jan     -3.8 24 Jul 612.4 574.7 average 107%
Maydena Post Office 15.9 -0.2 35.2 31 Dec 5.7 +0.4 -2.4 8 Oct 1288.4 1188.4 high 108%
Ouse Fire Station 18.2 -0.2 38.7 30 Jan 6.0 +0.6 -5.6 30 Apr 578.8


Tarraleah Village 14.3 +0.4 33.0 30 Jan 4.5 +0.9 -3.0 17 Jul 1291.9 1168.8 high 111%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Butlers Gorge 13.5 +0.8 32.5 29 Jan 3.4 +0.5 -6.6 8 Jul 1819.8 1685.1 high 108%
Lake St Clair National Park 13.3 +0.2 32.5 30 Jan 3.1 +0.4 -5.5 8 Jul 2060.5 1885.1 high 109%
Liawenee 12.3   32.0 30 Jan 2.0   -8.6 17 Jul 1167.2


West Coast (district 97)
Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 11.2 -0.4 30.9 31 Dec 4.0 0.0 -2.2 10 Jun 1386.4


Scotts Peak Dam 15.0   34.4 31 Dec 6.3   -0.9 10 Jul 2024.0


Strahan Aerodrome 16.6 +0.2 34.5 31 Dec 8.1 +0.3 -1.6 16 Jul 1696.0 1410.1 high 120%
Warra 13.6   33.1 31 Dec     -2.7 8 Jul



King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 17.2 +0.4 35.2 31 Dec 10.2 +0.4 1.3 29 Apr 976.8 860.2 high 114%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 18.3 +0.6 41.5 29 Jan 10.0 +0.3 -1.4 7 Jul 787.1 747.1 average 105%
Hogan Island 17.4   39.3 29 Jan 11.8   4.8 26 Aug 701.0


Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 6.5 0.0 10.6 22 Jan 3.2 +0.2 -6.1 15 Jun 925.2 966.7 average 96%


Notes

An Annual Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Tasmania 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 10 am on Tuesday, 5 January 2010. 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries