Australia in February 2010

In Brief

February 2010 was a wet month through most of the eastern two-thirds of Australia, with all three states of the mainland southeast receiving more than double their normal February rainfall. Maximum temperatures were also below normal over much of eastern Australia, except in the south. In contrast Western Australia was very warm and rather dry.


Nationally averaged maximum temperatures were 0.37C above normal (15th highest on record), with Tasmania having its third highest February maximum temperature on record and Western Australia its fourth. Temperatures were above normal almost throughout both states (except very locally on the west coast between Carnarvon and Karratha), as well as in Victoria, and South Australia away from the far northeast. The remaining states were mostly cooler than normal, except for the NT Top End, Cape York Peninsula, and the coast of New South Wales and southern Queensland.

The strongest maximum temperature anomalies were in Western Australia, reaching +5C (locally highest on record) in parts of the inland Pilbara and at least +2C over most of the states inland areas except the east Kimberley. These temperatures were mostly in the highest decile. Temperatures were also in the highest decile in most of Tasmania (where anomalies were around +2C) and in patches across all three states of the northern tropics. Anomalies were more modest elsewhere, although maxima were at least 1C above average in western and central Victoria, the agricultural areas of South Australia, and around Sydney.

The most pronounced cool daytime temperatures were in the eastern interior. Maximum temperatures were at least 1C below normal over a region encompassing the southwestern half of Queensland, the southeastern Northern Territory, far northeastern South Australia and the northwest quarter of New South Wales. Anomalies surpassed −3C (generally in the lowest decile) in a region centred on the SA/Queensland/NSW border, reaching −5C in a few places.

Overnight minimum temperatures were well above normal, with the national anomaly of +1.03C ranking as the fifth-highest on record. Victoria had its second-hottest February nights on record, and Western Australia its fourth. Much of the Western Australian interior was at least 2C above normal, as was Victoria (except the southwest), most of the southern half of New South Wales, and the north coast of Tasmania. Anomalies reached +4C in places in inland Western Australia, and +3C in the NSW Riverina. All of these regions were generally in the highest decile, with records set around Wiluna (WA), in east Gippsland (Victoria) and the far south coast of New South Wales. Smaller anomalies, around +1C, were sufficient to set records locally on the coasts of the NT Top End and Cape York Peninsula, and large parts of both regions were also in the highest decile.

The only significant areas which were cooler than normal were western Queensland and adjacent border areas of the Northern Territory, and the Western Australian coast between Geraldton and Karratha, with anomalies locally reaching −1C in both areas.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 61)
Comment Rank
(out of 61)
Australia 47 +0.37 57 +1.03
Queensland 15 −1.34 34 +0.13
New South Wales 25 −0.67 53 +1.43
Victoria 53 +1.24 60 +2.36 2nd highest; record is +2.60 (1997)
Tasmania 59 +2.40 3rd highest; record is +2.92 (2001) 47 +0.74
South Australia 34 +0.21 52 +1.44
Western Australia 58 +2.02 58 +1.45
Northern Territory 32 +0.01 49 +0.61

*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


Nationally averaged rainfall was 20% above normal. Most of the mainland outside Western Australia exceeded its February average, with only scattered exceptions, while rainfall was also above normal in the northern half of Tasmania and a few patches in the Esperance-Kalgoorlie corridor in Western Australia. New South Wales, which had its wettest February since 1976 (115% above normal), was especially wet; most of the state outside the northeast quarter was in the highest decile (wettest 10% of all years), and records were set locally to the south and northwest of Canberra. Some parts of the states south coast had more rain in February than they received in all of 2009. Falls in the highest decile also extended into most of southern inland Queensland west of the Darling Downs, and through that states central highlands to the coast around Rockhampton.

Another very wet area was a section of the interior, with totals in the highest decile covering the southeastern quarter of the Northern Territory (including Alice Springs), western border areas of Queensland, and the far northeast of South Australia (with records set around Moomba). Similarly heavy rainfalls also affected the Gulf of Carpentaria coast near the Queensland-Northern Territory border. Much of this rain fell in the last few days of the month, as a result of a monsoonal low whose influence extended into early March.

Most of Western Australia was drier than normal, with scattered areas in the lowest decile throughout the states west. Much of the west coast between Onslow and Perth received no rain for the month. It was also drier than normal in parts of the Top End of the Northern Territory and Cape York Peninsula; much of this area was exceptionally dry for February until heavy rains in the last few days of the month. Other drier-than-normal areas were more localised, and included southern Tasmania (locally decile 1 in the southwest), some of the agricultural areas of South Australia, the Victorian Mallee and some areas around Melbourne, and the Hunter, Mid-North Coast and Northern Tablelands regions of New South Wales.

There were no tropical cyclones in the Australian region during February, the first time this has occurred since comprehensive reliable records began in the 1960s.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 82 91.5 +20%
Queensland 96 172.1 +49%
New South Wales 102 106.5 +115% Highest since 1976
Victoria 96 63.8 +104%
Tasmania 58 66.9 −2%
South Australia 97 39.0 +107%
Western Australia 30 26.1 −57%
Northern Territory 87 145.9 +20%
Murray-Darling Basin 102 93.5 +138% Highest since 1994

*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 February 2010
Hottest day 47.8 °C at Emu Creek (WA) on the 20th
Coldest day 4.7 °C at Mount Wellington (Tas) on the 28th
Coldest night −2.6 °C at Liawenee and Lake St. Clair (Tas) on the 24th
Warmest night 33.6 °C at Paraburdoo (WA) on the 21st
Wettest day 372.0 mm at Mount Tamborine Alert (Qld) on the 7th


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 10 am on Tuesday 2 March 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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