Australian Monthly Climate Summary: February 2007
Tuesday 6th March, 2007
February was a very warm and dry month through large parts of Australia. It was a particularly hot and dry month in Western Australia, which had its hottest February on record and its largest maximum temperature anomaly on record for any month. Rainfall was above normal in many areas near the east coast, but below normal over most of the remainder of the continent. Over Australia as a whole it was the second-warmest February on record (mean temperature anomaly +1.66°C), with both maxima (+2.04°C) and minima (+1.29°C) the third-highest on record.
Daytime maximum temperatures were very high through much of western and southern Australia with many records being set. Records were particularly prevalent across much of interior Western Australia, where anomalies were generally above +3°C and locally exceeded +6°C. Marble Bar set an Australian record for the highest monthly mean maximum temperature with 44.9°C (anomaly +5.7°C), and had a record (for Marble Bar) 43 consecutive days above 42°C from 16 January to 27 February, whilst many other stations set all-time records during the first week of the month. A particularly notable reading was 48.6°C at Hyden (32°S) on 3 February, the highest temperature in Australia this summer and one of the highest ever recorded so far south. The Western Australian state anomaly of +3.12°C was the highest on record for any month. There were cool conditions in the immediate vicinity of the west coast due to persistent sea-breezes, particularly around Carnarvon and Geraldton (anomaly −3.2°C).
Maximum temperatures were also very high in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, with anomalies exceeding +2°C in many areas and reaching 3−4°C in parts of South Australia, northern Victoria and western Tasmania. South Australia had its highest February mean maximum temperature on record (anomaly +3.29°C), whilst Tasmania and Victoria ranked 3rd and 4th respectively. New South Wales was also warm (anomalies widely near +2°C). The only region with widespread cool anomalies was Queensland north of about 25°S (except for the western border and northern Cape York Peninsula), with anomalies of around −1°C along and near the coast between Rockhampton and Cooktown.
Overnight minimum temperatures were also well above normal in most areas outside Queensland, with area records being set in Western Australia and Tasmania. Station records were set in most of eastern Western Australia and northern Tasmania. Anomalies over these areas were mostly in the +2−4°C range, reaching +5°C around Warburton and Giles. Other areas which were 2°C or more above normal included northern South Australia, central and north-western New South Wales, and central and north-eastern Victoria. The main areas which were cooler than normal were the east coast between Newcastle and Mackay extending into central inland Queensland, and parts of the eastern Northern Territory. Some parts of inland Queensland around Winton and Longreach were up to 2°C cooler than average.
* Anomaly is the difference from the long-term average
There was substantial rain in many eastern areas, particularly on and near the eastern Queensland coast north of Rockhampton, and on the far south coast of New South Wales, where rainfall in many areas was in the highest decile. A number of locations between Cairns and Townsville received more than 1000 mm for the month, much of it in the first week, with Babinda reaching 1532 mm.
Rainfall was above normal over most of eastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria (with considerable local variations due to thunderstorm activity), and over parts of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory which were influenced by a monsoonal low-pressure system at the end of the month. Elsewhere it was dry, particularly in the tropics away from the east coast.
Except for the Top End of the Northern Territory, most of tropical Western Australia, the Northern Territory and western Queensland had rainfall in the driest 10% of all years (locally lowest on record in all three states). Another notably dry area was western Tasmania, while there were patches of very much below normal rainfall in southern Western Australia, southern South Australia (Adelaide was rainless), and south-western Victoria. A major contributor to the dry western and central tropics was the lack of tropical cyclones. Only one tropical cyclone has formed in the Australian region for the season up until the end of February, the first time this has occurred since at least 1944−45.
The all-Australian average rainfall was 40% below normal (22nd lowest since 1900), with Western Australia 76% below normal (4th lowest on record) and South Australia 77% below normal. All states and territories were drier than average, although by less than 10% in the cases of Queensland, NSW and Victoria.