Australia in January 2010

In Brief

January 2010 was generally wetter and cooler than normal through most of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and warmer and drier than normal elsewhere, although in both cases the anomalies were mostly less extreme than those which occurred in January 2009. Averaged over Australia as a whole, rainfall and temperature were both somewhat above average, without approaching record or near-record levels.


Both maximum and minimum temperatures nationally were somewhat above average, with anomalies of +0.51C (19th highest of 61 years) and +0.57C (17th highest) respectively. The most notable warmth occurred in Western Australia, which had its third-highest January maximum temperatures and second-highest minimum temperatures on record. The states south was especially hot, with maximum temperatures widely 2-4C above normal, and monthly records set over wide areas in the northern Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions.

Maximum temperatures were below normal over almost all of the Northern Territory, and in most of Queensland except for the south-east (south of a Rockhampton-St. George line) and far south-west. Anomalies peaked near −3C around Longreach and were below −1C over most of the eastern half of the Northern Territory, and northern and central inland Queensland.

Elsewhere they were above normal except for a few places on the west coast from Carnarvon northwards, and on the far south coast of Western Australia around Albany. Away from the west the most significant anomalies occurred in the southern half of New South Wales, extending into eastern South Australia and parts of Northern Victoria, where maxima were widely 2-3C above normal, and were in the highest decile along a strip 100-200 kilometres wide running along the NSW side of the Victorian border. Similar anomalies occurred on the east coast between about Taree and Brisbane.

Minimum temperatures were generally slightly below normal over most of the eastern Northern Territory and northern and central inland Queensland, although only in far western Queensland did anomalies reach −1C. Other smaller areas with slightly below-normal nights were western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia, north-western Tasmania, the far south of Western Australia and patches along the coast, particularly around Exmouth.

Nights were warmer than normal over most remaining areas of the continent, especially across the south. Although no significant records were broken, minima were at least 1C above average over a region extending from the interior of Western Australia across northern South Australia to cover most of New South Wales (except the far north-east and south-west) and far eastern Victoria. Anomalies reached +2-3C in parts of this region, especially on the Nullarbor and in south-eastern New South Wales.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 61)
Comment Rank
(out of 61)
Australia 43 +0.51 45 +0.57
Queensland 16 −1.19 27 −0.11
New South Wales 52 +2.12 44 +1.12
Victoria 46 +1.74 35 +0.54
Tasmania 56 +2.28 23 −0.13
South Australia 47 +1.43 44 +1.21
Western Australia 59 +1.39 3rd highest 60 +1.00 2nd highest; record is +1.24 (2008)
Northern Territory 15 −0.90 26 −0.13

*Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961-1990) average.

Temperature maps
Map of mean daily maximum temperature Map of mean daily maximum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily maximum temperature deciles
Map of mean daily minimum temperature Map of mean daily minimum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily minimum temperature deciles


National rainfall was 17% above the long-term average (23rd wettest of 111 years), with the wetter-than-average areas concentrated in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Almost all of the Northern Territory, except for a few scattered patches in central areas, was wetter than normal, with above-average falls also spilling over into eastern border areas of Western Australia, especially in the east Kimberley. Queensland was also wetter than normal north of a line extending roughly through Rockhampton and Blackall, except for parts of Cape York Peninsula. Both regions, however, were generally less wet in January 2010 than they had been in January 2009 (the exception being the southern half of the NT). The most significant totals, in the highest decile, were recorded in three key areas; the southern third of the Northern Territory (with records set north and south of Alice Springs), a band stretching across northern Queensland and the Gulf Coast of eastern NT near the path of Tropical Cyclone Olga, and areas of north-central Queensland, especially between Hughenden and Longreach. Alice Springs received 123 millimetres of rain in the three days 7-9 January, well in excess of the 77 millimetres received for all of 2009.

The other major region with above-normal rainfall was a narrow band extending south through Queensland and northern New South Wales, south from Longreach to Bourke then south-east to Tamworth. Smaller regions with above-normal falls included Victorias north-east highlands (which received most of their rain on the first two days of the month), an area between Kerang and Hay centred on the Murray River, the Eyre Peninsula and far west coast of South Australia, and areas around and south of Derby near the landfall point of Tropical Cyclone Magda.

Dry conditions existed elsewhere, most significantly in Tasmania which experienced its sixth-driest January on record (57% below average). This was the fourth dry month in succession, leading to the October-January period being the third-driest on record (following the second-wettest June-September). Most of the state, except for the east coast, was in the lowest decile and records were set locally along the north coast. Other areas with scattered patches in the lowest decile included the south-west of Western Australia (much of which received no rain), southern inland New South Wales (especially around and north-west of Canberra), the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, and the Darling Downs in south-eastern Queensland.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 89 94.1 +17%
Queensland 92 169.0 +46% 7th successive above-normal January
New South Wales 42 38.8 −42%
Victoria 48 31.3 −21%
Tasmania 6 32.6 −57%
South Australia 67 15.4 −31%
Western Australia 52 46.4 −19%
Northern Territory 99 194.1 +61%
Murray-Darling Basin 50 35.4 −37%

*The mean is calculated for the 1961-1990 reference period.

Rainfall maps
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles

Australian weather extremes in January 2010
Hottest day 49.1 °C at Emu Creek (WA) on the 2nd
Coldest day 3.5 °C at Mount Buller (Vic) on the 18th
Coldest night −3.5 °C at Mount Hotham (Vic) on the 18th
Warmest night 34.6 °C at Paraburdoo (WA) on the 2nd
Wettest day 338.6 mm at Lockhart River (Qld) on the 11th


The Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Australia using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 12 pm on Monday 1 February 2010. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available, especially for rainfall where much more data becomes available as returns are received from volunteers.

Long-term averages in this statement and associated tables are for the period 1961 to 1990 unless otherwise specified.

In the tables, fractional ranks denote tied values.

A new area-averaging method was adopted for rainfall in May 2009. Current and historical totals for Tasmania are substantially higher than under the old scheme, but differences for other states, and nationally, are negligible. The rankings and departures from mean shown here use the new method.

Further information

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