Australia in March 2010

In Brief

Averaged nationwide, March was near normal for both rainfall and temperature. This reflected some marked variations, both positive and negative, especially for rainfall. It was a rather wet month in much of eastern Australia, exceptionally so in parts of southern Queensland, but rather dry in most of the northern tropics, while temperatures were widely above normal in the south and west and below normal elsewhere.


Maximum temperatures were very close to normal with a national anomaly of −0.05°C (27th lowest). This included some marked contrasts, with Tasmania having its highest mean March maxima on record and Queensland its seventh-lowest. Maxima were above normal through much of the south and west of the country, including Western Australia, southern South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the New South Wales coast. They were also above normal in Cape York Peninsula and the NT Top End. Much of Western Australia, except the far east and south, was at least 1°C above normal, with anomalies of +2-3°C widespread across the Gascoyne, Pilbara and west Kimberley regions. These regions were mostly in the highest decile with records in places, especially in the Broome-Derby area. Tasmania ranged from 1-2°C above normal in the west to 2-3°C above in the east, again with records set locally, while other areas at least 1°C above normal (and generally in the highest decile) included the northwest Top End, the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula, and the coast of southern Victoria from Melbourne eastwards.

Below-normal maxima were concentrated in the areas with abnormally high rainfall, especially southern inland Queensland. A band with maxima 2-4°C below normal extended across the region from the Darling Downs westwards into the far east of the Northern Territory, with most of the area in the lowest decile. Anomalies below −1°C extended to cover most of inland Queensland, the south-eastern half of the Northern Territory, and border areas of north-eastern South Australia and the far north-west of New South Wales.

Minimum temperatures were 0.28°C above normal (22nd highest). Areas with below-normal minima broadly corresponded to those of below-normal maxima but were less extensive, covering much of inland Queensland and the southern Northern Territory, north-western New South Wales, and some border areas of eastern Western Australia and north-eastern South Australia. Only in far western Queensland did anomalies widely reach −1°C.

Elsewhere nights were warmer than normal. As for maxima, Tasmania and Western Australia were especially warm with most of both states at least 1°C above normal. In Tasmania such temperatures were in the highest decile almost everywhere and reached record levels in the south-east. Minima also were in the highest decile in much of the southwest and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, as well as in most of the eastern two-thirds of Victoria, and parts of northern Cape York Peninsula and the central Top End.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 61)
Comment Rank
(out of 61)
Australia 27 −0.05 40 +0.28
Queensland 7 −1.19 Lowest since 1994 26 −0.49
New South Wales 23 −0.28 37 +0.17
Victoria 43 +0.68 52 +0.95 Highest since 1992
Tasmania 61 +2.14 Highest on record; previous record +1.90 (1971) 56 +0.99 Highest since 1989
South Australia 26 +0.06 43 +0.65
Western Australia 47 +1.04 52 +0.91
Northern Territory 16 −0.80 27 −0.23

*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


Rainfall averaged over Australia was 9% below normal and very close to the median. Totals were below normal in much of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, except for the southwest of Western Australia, and areas of eastern Arnhem Land and the Gulf of Carpentaria coast affected by Tropical Cyclone Paul towards the end of the month. They were also below normal in most northern Queensland areas north of a Townsville-Longreach- Mount Isa line, the New South Wales coastal strip extending north to Brisbane and south-west to Sale, outback South Australia (except the far northeast), southern and eastern Tasmania, and a small coastal area near the Victoria-South Australia border. Anomalies in these regions were mostly small, although patches in the northern tropics were in the lowest decile, and records were set locally south of Darwin, and east of Derby in the west Kimberley of Western Australia.

Most other areas, particularly in southern Queensland, inland New South Wales and Victoria, were wetter than normal, with Victoria (58% above normal) having its wettest March since 1989. Southern inland Queensland was especially wet, with rainfall in the highest decile almost throughout the southern quarter of the state away from the coast, and extending west into the south-eastern Northern Territory and the far north-east of South Australia. Records were set locally across this area, especially around St. George. Most of this rain fell in the first week of the month and caused severe flooding across the region.

Totals in the highest decile also covered most of far western New South Wales, much of the Murray Valley between Mildura and Albury, and an area of west-central Victoria centred on Ballarat. Most of this rain also came during the event of early March. Smaller areas in the highest decile were the eastern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, scattered areas in south-western Western Australia and northern Tasmania, and parts of the TC Paul track in the north-eastern Northern Territory. Severe weather was a feature of the month, with Melbourne (6 March) and Perth (22 March) both hit by damaging hailstorms which each caused at least several hundred million dollars of damage.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 57 56.1 −9%
Queensland 79 110.3 +19%
New South Wales 85 65.2 +21%
Victoria 93 66.2 +58% Highest since 1989
Tasmania 79 104.8 +14%
South Australia 82 22.4 +8%
Western Australia 38 24.2 −41%
Northern Territory 47 61.1 −38%
Murray-Darling Basin 104 82.4 +94% Highest since 1989

*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 March 2010
Hottest day 45.0 °C at Roebourne (WA) on the 28th
Coldest day 4.3 °C at Mount Baw Baw (Vic) on the 10th
Coldest night −3.8 °C at Liawenee (Tas) on the 1st
Warmest night 31.7 °C at Marble Bar (WA) on the 31st
Wettest day 442.8 mm at Bulman (NT) on the 31st


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 Thursday 1 April 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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