Australian Monthly Climate Summary: January 2008
Tuesday 5th February, 2008
January 2008 was Australia’s warmest January on record, with a mean temperature 1.23°C above the reference (1961−90) normal, breaking the previous record of +1.16°C set in January 1999. It was cooler than normal in much of eastern and central Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, but very warm over most of the remainder of the continent. Rainfall was above normal over most of eastern mainland Australia, but below normal over the remainder of the continent and in Tasmania.
Both daytime maximum and overnight minimum temperatures were well above normal and followed broadly similar patterns. Maximum temperatures were 1.26°C above the reference normal (5th highest on record), and minima 1.19°C above normal (4th highest). WA and the NT were highest on record for both maxima and minima.
Maximum temperatures 2−4°C above normal covered most of Western Australia away from the Kimberley district and the south coast, the NT south of Katherine, and the northern half of South Australia. In most of these areas maxima were in the warmest decile, with records set through parts of interior WA and the southern two-thirds of the Northern Territory. Tennant Creek (NT) and Meekatharra (WA) were among locations which had their hottest month on record. Maxima were also 2−3°C above normal in parts of southern and western New South Wales, north-central Victoria and eastern Tasmania, with a few records set in north-eastern Tasmania.
In contrast, maxima were well below normal in parts of inland Queensland. They were below normal in most of the state except western border areas and the east coast north of Cairns, as well as in adjacent parts of north-eastern NSW north of a Newcastle-Bourke line. A belt extending from central inland Queensland to the northern border areas of NSW was 2−4°C below normal, with a few areas in the coolest decile. The only other parts of Australia where maxima were below normal were parts of the NT Top End and the northern Kimberley, and a few locations on the Western Australian coast with strong local sea-breeze effects.
Minima followed the same general pattern as maxima, except that anomalies were generally weaker (peaking at +2 to +3°C in the WA interior and the southern Riverina in NSW) and the area of cool conditions in Queensland and NSW was much less extensive, being confined to a narrow band extending from near Richmond (Queensland) to north-central New South Wales. Records were set in parts of the Pilbara and Gascoyne districts of WA, with most of the state apart from the far north and the southern coast in the highest decile, as was most of the NT outside the Top End, and adjacent border areas of SA and Queensland. Other areas in the warmest decile included all of Tasmania, most of Victoria except for the far west and East Gippsland, and parts of southern NSW. No areas had minima in the coolest decile.
* Anomaly is the difference from the long-term average
Australian rainfall was 16% below normal, with the eastern part of the continent being generally wet, and the remainder dry. Above-normal rainfall covered most of Queensland, except for western border areas west of a Mount Isa-Thargomindah line, parts of the north tropical coast, and the Darling Downs. Wet conditions also covered most of the western inland of New South Wales, northern Victoria, and the east coast north of Newcastle. Only a few stations set monthly records, but rainfalls in the highest decile covered parts of the Warrego and Central Highlands regions in Queensland, along with the Gold Coast and adjoining border areas of NSW. All of these areas experienced substantial flooding during the month. More isolated patches in the highest decile also occurred in inland NSW and northern Victoria.
In contrast, it was an exceptionally dry month in Tasmania (73% below normal, 2nd lowest on record), with almost all of the state in the lowest decile. A number of long-standing stations in the south-east, including Hobart, recorded their driest January on record. It was also a generally dry month in most of SA, the NT and WA, except for a narrow band across the NT Top End near the path of Tropical Cyclone Helen, and a few areas in the far north of WA favoured by seasonal thunderstorms. In marked contrast with the flooding further east, it was particularly dry in the far west of Queensland, with records set in a few locations.