Australia in August 2010

In Brief

August 2010 was warmer than normal across the northern tropics and far west, with days through central and southeast Australia cooler than average. Positive minimum temperature anomalies were stronger than maximum anomalies and covered nearly all northern coastal areas, with records set in areas of the Top End and northern Queensland for both high maximum and minimum temperatures. August was a wet month for much of the country but dry through southern WA.


Nationally averaged maximum temperatures were moderately below the long term average. Maximum temperatures were generally slightly cooler than normal over most of Australia through central, southern and eastern regions away from western WA and the northern tropics. Anomalies below −2°C were present through large areas of central Australia, including the southern NT, northern and eastern SA, north-western and central NSW and far south-west Queensland. Days were more than 3°C cooler than normal around the junction of the SA, Queensland and NT borders in an area stretching from east of Alice Springs to Lake Eyre.

Above average maximum temperatures were recorded in western WA, the Top End of the NT and far northern Queensland. Anomalies of +1°C were located in far west WA between Carnarvon and Perth, across the Top End and Peninsula region in Queensland, peaking near 2°C above normal in small areas on Cape York Peninsula.

Averaged statewide, August maximum temperatures experienced in NSW were the lowest since 1990, and in SA the lowest since 1978. Areas of northeast SA and western and central NSW had their lowest on record maximum temperatures for the month. Conversely, parts of Cape York Peninsula and coastal Arnhem Land recorded their highest ever August mean maximum temperatures. Wyndham, in WA, and Bradshaw, in the NT, recorded the hottest day for the month, with 39.0°C, with Bradshaw’s value falling 0.2°C short of the NT record for August.

Overnight minimum temperatures averaged over Australia were near normal. Above average minimum temperatures were widespread in the northern tropics while colder than usual temperatures were generally found in inland and southern regions.

Warm anomalies of +2°C were found through much of the northern NT, mostly in coastal areas but also extending inland along the Victoria River, in areas of the Kimberley and around the North West Cape in WA, and in northern Queensland across most of the Cape York Peninsula, parts of the Gulf Country coast and the east coast from Bowen northwards. Anomalies of +3°C were reached in parts of Queensland on the far northern east coast and in an area around Georgetown.

Overnight temperatures were the highest on record for August in parts of the western Pilbara and Gascoyne in WA, the Cobourg Peninsula and adjacent areas of the NT, and large areas of far northern Queensland in the north of Cape York and the north tropical coast. The warmest night in August was 26.8°C at Horn Island, a new Queensland record high minimum temperature for the month. Over the month Coconut Island and Horn Island broke the previous Queensland record high August daily minimum (25.4°C) on 24 occasions between them (14 times at Coconut Island, 10 at Horn Island). Indeed Coconut Island's mean minimum for the month (25.3°C) was only 0.1°C below the Queensland August record for any individual day.

The most notable below average minimum temperatures occurred in south-western WA where anomalies of −2°C were recorded inland from Perth. Temperatures in a large area around this region were very much below average for August. Elsewhere in southern and central Australia minimum temperatures were mostly slightly below normal, although areas of overnight temperatures 1°C cooler than normal were found in scattered areas of WA, the NT, Queensland, SA and NSW.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 61)
Comment Rank
(out of 61)
Australia 14 −0.51 34 +0.10
Queensland 23 −0.09 36 +0.41
New South Wales 9 −1.10 Lowest since 1990 31 −0.06
Victoria 11 −0.94 24 −0.46
Tasmania 38 +0.28 26 −0.15
South Australia 7 −1.71 lowest since 1978 28 +0.11
Western Australia 33 +0.05 34 +0.24
Northern Territory 17 −0.82 27 −0.40

*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 42% above normal. Generally, more rainfall than usual was received across much of Australia with several states and territories averaging well above their normal totals; Victoria recorded 49% above normal, the wettest August since 1981, the NT 86% above normal, the wettest since 1975 and Queensland 134% above normal, the wettest since 1998.

Large areas of northern WA, the northern and western NT, Queensland in a band from the northwest to southeast and, western Victoria and adjacent southern SA, east coast Tasmania and areas of central and northern SA and central Australia as well as small scattered areas along the Great Dividing Range and in western WA received very much above average rainfall. Record high August rain fell in a small area of the Top End, across the northern Peninsula and scattered southern coastal locations in Queensland, in an area extending north from Warrnambool in Victoria's Western District, and around Moomba in SA. The month's wettest day saw 199mm fall at Mount Wellington in Tasmania, the second wettest August day in the state's record. Light falls in seasonally dry areas of the Top End and northern WA were sufficient to push these areas into the highest decile for August rainfall.

Elsewhere, the southwest and interior of WA, parts of central NSW and scattered areas of the NSW coast, the northeastern Northern Territory and adjacent far western Queensland, as well as much of the Pilbara in WA, were seasonally dry. Rainfall was very much below average in WA in the southwest and areas of the south and interior and also in central NSW where record low rainfall was recorded near Ivanhoe.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 98 26.6 +42%
Queensland 104 31.8 +134% Highest since 1998
New South Wales 75 40.7 +8%
Victoria 106 110.1 +49% Highest since 1981
Tasmania 80 182.9 +21%
South Australia 101 31.4 +74%
Western Australia 63 14.4 −6%
Northern Territory 101 8.2 +86% Highest since 1975
Murray-Darling Basin 97 51.5 +36%

*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 August 2010
Hottest day 39.0°C at Wyndham Aero (WA) on the 20th and Bradshaw (NT) on the 25th
Coldest day −4.7°C at Mount Hotham (Vic) on the 25th
Coldest night −12.0°C at Charlotte Pass (NSW) on the 8th
Warmest night 26.8°C at Horn Island (Qld) on the 19th
Wettest day 199.0mm at Mount Wellington (Tas) on the 12th


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 noon on Wednesday 1 September 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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