Canberra in March 2016: a warm, dry start to autumn

Canberra experienced a warm, dry March in 2016, with no major rain events and well above average daytime and night-time temperatures, resulting in the equal second-warmest March on record for mean temperatures. The month began with a significant heatwave, with Canberra recording its second-longest spell above 30 °C on record for March.

  • Equal second-warmest March on record
  • Longest March spell above 30 °C since 1983
  • Persistently warm night-time temperatures
  • Below average rainfall

Canberra recorded its equal second-warmest March on record for mean temperatures during 2016, 2.5 °C above average. The average maximum temperature was the fourth-warmest on record and the warmest since 1998, while the average minimum temperature was the equal sixth-warmest on record. Both daytime and night-time temperatures were well above average during the first half of the month, associated with a prolonged March heatwave (see Special Climate Statement 55: Prolonged March heatwave affects many parts of Australia), with cooler conditions towards the end of the month.

Canberra Airport recorded ten consecutive days above 30 °C between 1 and 10 March, the second-longest March hot spell on record following the 12 days between 26 February and 9 March 1983. Three of these days reached at least 35 °C, the equal-highest number on record and the first March days this warm since 2008. Nights were also persistently warm, with only six nights falling below 10 °C, half the historical average and the fewest cool nights since 2000.

Rainfall was below average in Canberra during March. There were eight rain days, normal for March, of which none recorded more than 10 mm of rain, below the March average of 1-2 days. The heaviest rain was associated with thunderstorms on the 10th, with Tuggeranong recording 17.2 mm during the 24 hours to 9 am on the 11th.

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Extremes in March 2016
Hottest day 35.5 °C at Canberra Airport on the 5th
Warmest days on average 27.7 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest days on average 18.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Coldest day 11.0 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on the 19th
Coldest night 0.0 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on the 19th
Coolest nights on average 8.9 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Warmest nights on average 13.3 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 18.9 °C at Canberra Airport on the 11th
Warmest on average overall 20.1 °C at Canberra Airport
20.1 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest on average overall 13.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest overall 54.8 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
Driest overall 28.4 mm at Canberra Airport
Wettest day 17.2 mm at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on the 11th
Strongest wind gust 87 km/h at Canberra Airport on the 18th

Summary statistics for March 2016
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2016
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2016
Mean for
March
2016
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2016
Total for
March
2016
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2016
Fraction of
March
average
Canberra Airport 27.7 +3.2 35.5 5th 12.6 +1.9 5.3 19th 28.4 50.7 average 56%
Mount Ginini AWS 18.1 +1.9 25.8 7th 8.9 +1.8 0.0 19th 54.8 84.8 low 65%
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 26.8 +1.6 34.8 5th 13.3 +2.1 6.0 23rd 54.4 50.9 average 107%
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.

Daily maximum temperatures for March 2016
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031
Canberra Airport31.333.935.232.635.533.935.332.733.430.923.932.131.032.124.925.728.619.621.020.322.223.325.022.125.126.826.223.422.723.724.0
Mount Ginini AWS21.723.725.122.724.825.225.824.123.622.117.322.521.922.514.015.317.612.711.011.211.213.415.613.015.017.116.114.813.311.314.0
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS30.633.133.732.234.833.334.432.133.031.024.130.429.829.223.024.026.820.419.819.820.822.024.420.925.126.125.722.821.923.023.3
Values are the maximum temperature, usually in the 24 hours from 9 am on the day indicated,
and typically occurred in the afternoon of that day.
Temperatures coloured according to their difference
from the long-term average for the period
-10.0 -9.0 -8.0 -7.0 -6.0 -5.0 -4.0 -3.0 -2.0 -1.0 0.0 +1.0 +2.0 +3.0 +4.0 +5.0 +6.0 +7.0 +8.0 +9.0 +10.0 °C Grey outline marks highest
and lowest for the period

Daily minimum temperatures for March 2016
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031
Canberra Airport14.314.012.614.214.313.412.914.511.616.618.914.216.117.015.014.413.414.05.38.27.25.65.810.012.610.611.715.114.713.77.3
Mount Ginini AWS9.510.215.712.214.615.214.713.410.614.011.711.312.513.08.97.37.910.30.01.21.52.55.08.17.77.35.27.58.25.24.7
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS15.714.312.614.414.214.514.013.414.116.718.714.716.318.015.915.415.115.66.39.010.310.36.010.312.312.410.815.615.613.37.1
Values are the minimum temperature, usually in the 24 hours to 9 am on the day indicated,
and typically occurred that morning.
Temperatures coloured according to their difference
from the long-term average for the period
-10.0 -9.0 -8.0 -7.0 -6.0 -5.0 -4.0 -3.0 -2.0 -1.0 0.0 +1.0 +2.0 +3.0 +4.0 +5.0 +6.0 +7.0 +8.0 +9.0 +10.0 °C Grey outline marks highest
and lowest for the period

Daily rainfall for March 2016
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031
Canberra (Australian National Botanic Ga - - - 4.8 - - - - - - 10.0 1.0 0.4 - 0.2 - - 11.6 7.6 - - - - - 0.4 - - - - 0.4 -
Canberra Airport - - - 6.8 0.2 - - - - - 5.2 3.8 0.4 - - - - 7.4 4.4 - - - - - 0.2 - - - - - -
Mount Ginini AWS - - - 0.4 - 1.6 - - - - 12.0 4.6 7.4 - 3.6 0.2 - 9.4 13.2 - 0.4 0.2 - - 1.0 0.4 - - - 0.4 -
Nicholls (Gungahlin Lakes) - - - 6.8 - - - - - - 2.6 5.8 0.6 - 3.0 - - 6.4 4.6











Tharwa General Store - - - 5.0 - 12.4 - - - - 14.0 5.6 - - 5.0 - - 4.4 6.0 - - - - - - - - - - 1.2
Torrens (Darke St) - - - 7.8 - 2.4 - - - - 15.0 11.2 1.8 - - - - 4.0 5.8 - - - - - 0.6 - - - - 0.2
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS - - - 11.0 - 3.0 - - - - 17.2 12.0 0.6 - 5.6 - -
4.6 - - - - - 0.2 - - - - 0.2 -
Most values are the precipitation in the 24 hours to 9 am on the day indicated. Days marked with → are part of a longer accumulation, which is shown on the final day.
Values over 100 mm have been rounded to the nearest whole millimetre.
Days marked with - have a rainfall report of zero; days left blank have no rainfall report (which often indicates no rain fell).
Rainfalls coloured
according to the amount
0 1.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 25.0 50.0 100 150 200 300 400 600 millimetres

Notes

The Monthly climate summary 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. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

A climate summary is generally published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 9 am on Friday 1 April 2016. 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.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is used for temperature area averages.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries