Australia in March 2011

In Brief

Wet conditions have continued over most of Australia with March 2011 ranking as the wettest March on record nationally. Daytime temperatures were also exceptional ranking as the coldest on record for Australia.


Maximum temperatures nationally were the coldest on record with a national anomaly of -2.19°C. Most of Australia recorded below average mean maxima with parts of the north and south of the country recording their coldest March on record. This was partly due to increased cloudiness across most of the country associated with the above average rainfall recorded throughout the month. March 2011 included some contrasts between the majority of Australia and the west and east coasts, which were the only areas that experienced above average daytime temperatures. Temperatures were coolest in the central part of Australia where rainfall was most abnormal, with maximum temperatures more than 3°C below average Similarly, drier conditions matched up with areas of above-normal maxima in western WA.

Eastern WA, western Queensland as well as large parts of NT and SA recorded maxima more than 3°C below average with SA and NT recording their coldest March on record. The lowest anomalies were recorded within eastern WA where temperatures were up to 6°C below average. In marked contrast, the west of WA recorded above average maxima with southwest WA recording temperatures up to 4°C above average. The east and southwest of WA each ranked as the coldest and warmest on record respectively. Despite the contrast, cool maximum temperatures dominated across large parts of the country with WA ranking as the 5th lowest on record. Victoria ranked as the 3rd lowest on record with every state, with the exception of Tasmania, ranking March this year in the coldest top ten.

Minimum temperatures were almost right on average with an anomaly of +0.02°C. Areas along the north, east and west coasts of Australia recorded above-normal minimum temperatures, peaking up to 3°C above normal on the WA coast north of Perth, while the interior of WA recorded minima up to 3°C below-normal. Most of central and eastern inland parts of Australia recorded night-time temperatures within 1°C of the average, with the exception of a few scattered areas which recorded temperatures up to 2°C above-normal.

Nights were particularly warm along parts of the northeast and west coasts of Australia where minimum temperatures ranked in the highest decile. In contrast, a large area in eastern WA ranked in the lowest 10% for both maximum and minimum temperatures.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 62)
Comment Rank
(out of 62)
Australia 1 −2.19 Lowest on record 33 +0.02
Queensland 6 −1.50 Lowest since 1971 43 +0.36
New South Wales 9 −0.93 Lowest since 1994 43 +0.70
Victoria 3 −1.89 3rd lowest on record 40 +0.20
Tasmania 19 −0.38   27 −0.33
South Australia 1 −2.94 Lowest on record 34 +0.28  
Western Australia 5 −2.23 Lowest since 2001 22 −0.38  
Northern Territory 1 −3.36 Lowest on record 25 −0.28

*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 117% above-normal and ranks as the wettest March on record with most of the country recording above average falls. The only exception to this was western WA, particularly in the southwest, and an area in northern NSW. The above average rainfall was widespread across most of Queensland and NT, which had their wettest March on record, as well as SA which had their 4th wettest March on record. Areas in eastern WA, the southwest half of NSW, most of Victoria and the northeast half of Tasmania also recorded above average rainfall.

The tropical north recorded the highest rainfall totals during the month with several events, caused by tropical lows embedded in the monsoonal trough, bringing heavy falls to areas in the southwest Queensland, Kimberley and the southern Gulf coast. This resulted in stations in southwest Queensland, such as Bedourie and Glengyle, recording more than double their previous March records set in 2010. A progression of strong low pressure troughs also caused substantial rainfall in southern parts of Australia with several stations breaking records including Broken Hill, Mildura, Mt Darragh (west of Merimbula) and Gray in northern Tasmania, which recorded 327 mm on the 24th of the month; the third highest daily rainfall total on record for the state.

Consistent rainfall throughout March and several exceptional rainfall events in parts of Australia resulted in parts of the northern Australia, including the Kimberley and the southern Gulf coast, ranking in the highest decile. Areas in southwest Queensland as well as parts of northeast and southeast SA also ranked in highest decile.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 112)
from mean*
Australia 112 133.3 +117% Highest on record
Queensland 112 204.6 +125% Highest on record
New South Wales 85 64.8 +32%  
Victoria 89 61.1 +49%  
Tasmania 101 130.6 +45% Highest since 2001
South Australia 109 57.9 +207% 4th highest on record
Western Australia 100 84.4 +94%  
Northern Territory 112 244.5 +150% Highest on reocrd
Murray-Darling Basin 95 65.8 +71%  

*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 2011
Hottest day 43.0 °C at Fitzroy Crossing (WA) on the 29th
Coldest day −0.5°C at Mt Wellington (Tas) on the 4th
Coldest night −5.3 °C at Liawenee (Tas) on the 5th
Warmest night 30.0 °C at Bedout Island (WA) on the 14th
Wettest day 477.2 mm at Mornington Island (Qld) on the 1st


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 Friday 1 April 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.

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