Australia in May 2011

In Brief

Rainfall was generally below or near average across Australia, with a few small areas recording above average falls. Temperatures were cooler than normal during both the day and night in most parts of the country.


Maximum temperatures were 1.33 °C below normal (7th lowest on record), the coolest since 2000. All states and territories recorded below average daytime temperatures. The most significant cool anomalies were experienced across the central Northern Territory and the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with maximum temperatures up to 4 °C below normal.

Warmer than average daytime temperatures were only experienced in the southwest corner of Western Australia (up to 2 °C warmer than normal), and the tip of Cape York in Queensland. Temperatures across Tasmania remained fairly close to normal.

Nationally, minimum temperatures were 1.75 °C below normal (3rd lowest on record). Northern Australia was significantly cooler than average, with parts of central Queensland up to 6 °C cooler than normal. Both Queensland and the Northern Territory recorded their second lowest May minimum temperature on record. The western third of Western Australia was warmer than average, as were small areas along the south coast of Australia.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 62)
Comment Rank
(out of 62)
Australia 7 −1.33 Lowest since 2000 3 −1.75 Lowest since 1976
Queensland 7 −1.21 Lowest since 2000 2 −3.05 Second lowest on record; Record − 3.11 (2001)
New South Wales 12 −0.66 Lowest since 2000 4 −2.05
Victoria 10 −0.96 Lowest since 1970 16 −0.82
Tasmania 27.5 −0.06 37.5 +0.06
South Australia 5 −1.64 Lowest since 1979 23 −0.36
Western Australia 10.5 −1.11 Lowest since 2000 14 −0.70
Northern Territory 5 −2.19 Lowest since 2000 2 −3.14 Second lowest on record; Record − 3.42 (1976)

*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 46% lower than normal (25th driest out of 112 years of record). May 2011 is the first month with below average rainfall for Australia as a whole since June 2010. All states and territories recorded lower than their mean rainfall.

Higher than average falls were recorded in central South Australia and in small patches along the central east coast of Australia and parts of Western Australia. Below average rainfall was recorded across much of northern Australia, especially in the Arnhem region of the Northern Territory and across Cape York in Queensland. Little to no rainfall fell in these regions. Southwest Western Australia, northern Victoria, Tasmania and the Riverina districts in NSW also received below average rainfall.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 112)
from mean*
Australia 25 15.4 −46%
Queensland 33 12.0 −61%
New South Wales 55 33.2 −30%
Victoria 45 46.3 −29%
Tasmania 13 71.2 −48%
South Australia 61 17.1 −20%
Western Australia 31 14.7 −43%
Northern Territory 20 0.9 −94%
Murray-Darling Basin 51 27.7 −34%

*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 May 2011
Hottest day 35.1 °C at Wyndham (WA) on the 3rd
Coldest day −4.6 °C at Thredbo (NSW) on the 11th
Coldest night −9.0 °C at Woolbrook (NSW) on the 15th
Warmest night 27.1 °C at Troughton Island (WA) on the 10th
Wettest day 122.0 mm at Katoomba (NSW) 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 2pm EST on Wednesday 1 June 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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