Australia in August 2012

In Brief

August rainfall was below to very much below average for most of Australia. Tasmania, most of Victoria and southeastern South Austalia recorded near-average August rainfall, while seasonally dry parts of northern Australia experienced rainfall which was near or above average. For Australia as a whole it was the fifth lowest area-averaged August rainfall on record (since 1900). August-averaged maximum temperatures were generally above average for Australia, with a substantial region of the Pilbara and Kimberley recording highest-on-record monthly maxima. The Alpine region was the only area to record below average maxima. Minimum temperatures were below average for most of northern and eastern Australia during August, as well as part of South Australia. Most of Western Australia south of Karratha recorded above average minima, as did southwestern Victoria. Tasmania recorded average monthly minima.


Averaged over August, maximum temperatures were above average for Australia as a whole. The national anomaly was +1.49 °C. Western Australia recorded its second-warmest August area-averaged maximum temperature (statewide records commence in 1950), with an anomaly of +2.33 °C. No State or Territory recorded below-average monthly maximum temperatures. Maximum temperatures were above average across much of mainland Australia, most notably so in Western Australia, where they were at least 1 °C above average throughout the State except for the central and east Kimberley, and reached 3 to 5 °C above average in the Pilbara, inland Gascoyne and northern Goldfields. Most of the state was in decile 10 (the highest 10% of records). Parts of Western Australia encompassing the Pilbara and western Kimberley recorded maxima which were highest on record for the month of August. Maxima were near average for much of the southeast (southeast South Australia, Victoria, southwest and central New South Wales west of the Great Divide) and part of northern Queensland including the south of the Cape York Peninsula extending down the coast and hinterland to about Rockhampton. The Alpine region in northeastern Victoria and adjacent New South Wales was the only area to record significantly below average maxima.

For Australia as a whole, August minimum temperatures were the 14th-coolest on record. The national anomaly was −0.83 °C. Queensland recorded its coolest August since 1989, and the Northern Territory its coolest since 2002 (anomalies of −1.58 °C and −1.80 °C, respectively). Minimum temperatures were below average for most of northern and eastern Australia during August, as well as parts of South Australia along the border with Western Australia and in the south of that state. A large area of central New South Wales and adjacent southern Queensland, and northern Australia from Queensland's Gulf Country west to the Kimberley recorded minima in decile 1, with scattered areas recording lowest-on-record minima. In parts of the north, especially in the Kimberley, the Northern Territory and northwestern Queensland, minima were 3 to 6 °C below average for August. The only significant areas to experience August minima near or above average were Western Australia outside the tropics, Tasmania and parts of southern Victoria, with only isolated areas in Western Australia reaching the highest decile.

The Australian diurnal temperature range (the difference between maximum and minimum) anomaly was the highest on record for August and the third-highest on record for any month; the anomaly was 2.32 °C.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 63)
Comment Rank
(out of 63)
Australia 58 +1.49 14 −0.83
Queensland 51 +0.93 8 −1.58 lowest since 1989
New South Wales 49 +1.17 7 −1.03
Victoria 39 +0.17 27 −0.35
Tasmania 45 +0.56 43 +0.36
South Australia 51 +1.36 23.5 −0.21
Western Australia 62 +2.33 2nd highest 27 −0.05
Northern Territory 55.5 +1.18 9 −1.80 lowest since 2002

*Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average.
A fractional rank indicates that the value is tied for that rank.

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


During August rainfall was below average across most of Australia outside of the tropics, although most of Tasmania, Victoria, and southeastern South Australia recorded near-average monthly totals. Except for Victoria and Tasmania, which recorded rainfall 14% below average and 4% above average respectively, all other regions recorded totals of around 40% or less of their August average. For Western Australia, it was the driest August since 1995. Averaged over Australia, August rainfall was 56% below average, ranking as the 5th-driest year in 113 years of record.

Rainfall was generally in decile 1 (the lowest 10% of records) for a wide band stretching from southeast Queensland/northern New South Wales though South Australia and into Western Australia, with little or no rain falling in most of outback South Australia, the far northwest of New South Wales, and Queensland west of Charleville. A number of locations in the Brisbane area also had a rainless month. The only area in the wettest 10% of records was the extreme east of Victoria. Northern Australia was seasonally dry, except for light falls in eastern Queensland and a few isolated falls in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

Area-average rainfall
(out of 113)
from mean*
Australia 5 8.3 −56% 5th lowest
Queensland 19 3.2 −77%
New South Wales 12 12.7 −67%
Victoria 46 63.6 −14%
Tasmania 66 157.3 +4%
South Australia 15 7.1 −61%
Western Australia 9 6.2 −59% lowest since 1995
Northern Territory 27 0.2 −96%
Murray-Darling Basin 16 16.6 −56%

*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 2012
Hottest day      38.5 °C at Fitzroy Crossing (WA) on 27 August
Coldest day      −4.9 °C at Thredbo Top Station (NSW) on 6 August
Coldest night    −12.0 °C at Charlotte Pass (Kosciusko Chalet) (NSW) on 10 and 26 August
Warmest night      25.1 °C at Coconut Island (Qld) on 23 and 24 August, and Horn Island (Qld) on 22 August
Wettest day   73.0 mm at Mount Sabine (Vic) on 18 August


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 EST on Monday 3 September 2012. 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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