Australia in January 2011

In Brief

January was a wet month for many parts of Australia, including much of southeast Australia. Flooding was widespread in southeast Queensland and northern Victoria. It was a warm month for southern Australia, with both daytime maxima and overnight minima being above average. Northern parts experienced a close to, or cooler than, average month.


Daytime maximum temperatures were warmer than normal across central Australia, southern Western Australia and New South Wales, but cooler than normal across the tropical north. Victoria and Tasmania were close to average. Averaged across Australia, maximum temperatures were 0.54 °C above average.

Maxima were more than 3 °C above average through central Australia, whilst highest on record daytime maximums were recorded in parts of central Western Australia. In contrast, parts of northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory were more than 2 °C below average and the Kimberley region received lowest on record maxima.

Minimum temperatures were generally above normal in the southern half of Australia, and close to normal in the north. Averaged over Australia, minimum temperatures were 1.07 °C above normal (5th warmest January on record). Minimum temperatures in Western Australia ranked as the highest on record this month, whilst South Australia recorded its third highest on record minimum temperatures.

Minima were more than 3 °C above average in central Australia, with a large area along the central Western Australia border recording the highest minima on record. Areas of highest on record were also observed in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia and along the southern New South Wales coast. In contrast, parts of the Kimberley region of Western Australia were cooler than average, with some coastal regions receiving lowest on record minima.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 62)
Comment Rank
(out of 62)
Australia 44 +0.54 58 +1.07
Queensland 28 −0.37 31 0.00
New South Wales 39 +1.10 52 +1.49
Victoria 31 +0.01 56 +1.96
Tasmania 39 +0.76 57 +1.45
South Australia 58 +2.59 60 +2.83 Third highest; record is +4.38 (2006)
Western Australia 43 +0.66 62 +1.31 Highest on record; previous record +1.24 (2008)
Northern Territory 22 −0.28 38 +0.24

*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 28% above normal (17th wettest). Most of Western Australia, the tropical north as well as an area stretching from the Northern Territory through Queensland, western NSW and Victoria to the top of Tasmania exceeded their average January rainfall. Western New South Wales, most of Victoria, southeast Queensland as well as parts of western WA and northern Tasmania recorded rainfall over 300 to 400% above normal. Drier conditions were experienced in parts of eastern NSW, inland Queensland and large parts of South Australia.

Areas in western New South Wales and Victoria, as well as small parts of northern Tasmania and southeast Queensland, ranked in the highest decile on record. Much of the above average rainfall in these parts was attributed to a single event between the 11-14th of the month, where a trough produced record breaking daily rainfall totals across western NSW, Victoria and northern Tasmania. This rainfall led to flooding in northwest Victoria, more details are available in the Bureau of Meteorology’s Special Climate Statement No. 26. Smaller areas through eastern NSW, southern South Australia and inland Queensland recorded below average rainfall conditions with some smaller areas ranking in the lowest decile. Rainfall in southeast Queensland also resulted in widespread flooding, further details are available in the report Queensland in January 2011: Widespread flooding continued.

During January 2011, several tropical cyclones affected the Australian coast. Tropical cyclone Anthony crossed the north Queensland coast on the 30th whilst the remnants of tropical cyclone Bianca crossed the Western Australian coast near Perth.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 96 102.2 +28%
Queensland 76 138.3 +9%
New South Wales 93 80.4 +23% Highest since 1996
Victoria 112 118.6 +199% Highest on record; previous record 109.3 (1941)
Tasmania 98 117.8 +55%
South Australia 88 25.8 +6%
Western Australia 100 90.5 +60%
Northern Territory 80 144.5 +20%
Murray-Darling Basin 91 72.6 +32% Highest since 1996

*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 2011
Hottest day 48.5 °C at Roxby Downs (SA) on the 25th
Coldest day 6.1 °C at Mount Baw Baw (Vic) on the 17th
Coldest night −1.1 °C at Liawenee (Tas) on the 3rd
Warmest night 34.2 °C at Oodnadatta (SA) on the 28th
Wettest day 388.6 mm at Kuri Bay (WA) 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 noon on Tuesday 1 February 2011. 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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