Canberra in February 2012: Cool, wet end to summer

  • 8th wettest February on record
  • Below average temperatures, coolest since 2008.
  • Record numbers of wet, overcast days.
  • Fewest hot days since 2002.

Rainfall

Canberra Airport recorded 127.0 mm of rain during February 2012, well above the historical average of 56.4 mm. This is the 8th wettest February on record, although slightly drier than both 2010 (133.2 mm) and 2011 (129.2 mm). The rain fell over 15 rain days, well above the historical average of 7 rain days and the most wet days on record, following 14 days in February 1973. The wettest day was on the 29th, as a broad low pressure trough brought widespread rain across the state, reaching 29.8 mm at Canberra Airport and 48.2 mm at Mt Ginini. Significant rain was also recorded on the 3rd, with 24.2 mm recorded at Canberra Airport associated with a low pressure trough, while 20.8 mm fell on the 18th associated with widespread thunderstorm activity. The above average rain is consistent with the ongoing summer La Niña event.

Temperature

Canberra Airport experienced an average maximum temperature of 25.0 °C during February, 2.1 °C below the historical average. This is the coldest February for Canberra since 24.6 °C was recorded in February 2008, associated with the cloudy, wet conditions during the month. Only two days reached 30 °C during February, well below the historical average of 8 days and the fewest hot days since no days reached 30 °C in February 2002.

Minimum temperatures were also slightly below average during February, at 12.9 °C compared to the historical average of 13.1 °C, also the coolest since 2008. The mean February temperature was consequently 19 °C, the coolest February in Canberra since 2008.

Wind

The prevailing wind direction at Canberra Airport was S-E in the mornings, forming 63% of 9am winds, while 39% of 3pm winds were WNW-NNW, normal for February. The strongest wind gust was associated with a thunderstorm on the 17th, reaching 59 km/hr at Canberra Airport.

Other phenomena

Canberra Airport had an average cloud cover of 5 eights of the sky at 9am and 6 eights at 3pm, above average for February. There were at least 13 days during February with completely overcast conditions at 3pm, the equal highest on record with February 1955. There were 13 thunderstorms across the ACT during February, the most since 19 storms in 2007, with reports of hail on the 18th.

Further information

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Extremes in February 2012
Hottest day 31.3 °C at Canberra Airport on the 25th
Warmest days on average 25.0 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest days on average 16.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Coldest day 8.9 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on the 2nd
Coldest night 4.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on the 1st
Coolest nights on average 8.4 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Warmest nights on average 13.1 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 19.0 °C at Canberra Airport on the 28th
Warmest on average overall 19.0 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest on average overall 12.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest overall 225.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest day 48.2 mm at Mount Ginini AWS on the 29th
Highest wind gust 59 km/h at Canberra Airport on the 17th

Summary statistics for February 2012
Maximum temperatures
for February
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for February
(°C)
Rainfall
for February
(millimetres)
Mean for
February
2012
Diff
from
average
Highest for
February
2012
Mean for
February
2012
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
February
2012
Total for
February
2012
Average
for
February
Rank of
February
2012
Fraction of
February
average
Canberra Airport 25.0 -2.1 31.3 25th 12.9 -0.2 8.9 11th 127.0 56.4 v high 225%
Mount Ginini AWS 16.5   22.3 25th 8.4   4.1 1st 225.8
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 24.7   30.7 25th 13.1   9.0 13th 146.2

Notes

As of March 2010, the official station for Canberra is 70351 'Canberra Airport'. Averages from the previous site, 70014 Canberra Airport Comparison, are used for comparisons (all years of record).

A Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in ACT Monthly Summary 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 11 am on Thursday 1 March 2012. 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 20 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