Australia in January 2013

In Brief

January rainfall was below average across most of central and eastern Australia, including Tasmania, except for the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and Queensland where monthly rainfall was above average to highest on record. Western Australia west of a line from Eucla to Broome generally recorded above-average rainfall. For Australia as a whole, the monthly rainfall total was somewhat below average. The nationally-averaged January maximum temperature was the highest on record, surpassing the previous record by a significant margin. Maxima were above average for all of Australia except parts of eastern and northern Western Australia where they were generally near average. Large parts of the eastern interior of the continent observed their highest January monthly maxima on record. The Northern Territory recorded its warmest January maxima, while Queensland and New South Wales also recorded monthly maxima in the top three records. Nationally-averaged January minima were also significantly above average, placing at third-highest on record. Minima were above average for most of Australia, although near average for most of Tasmania, Victoria, southern South Australia, and other scattered areas in central and northern Australia. Queensland and Western Australia recorded their third-highest area-averaged monthly minima.


The January-averaged maximum temperature was the highest on record for Australia as a whole. The national anomaly was +2.28 °C, a substantial increase on the previous record of +2.17 °C in January 1932. All States and the Northern Territory recorded positive monthly anomalies for maxima with four also recording anomalies in the top six records: Northern Territory +2.52 °C, highest on record; Queensland +2.62 °C, second highest on record; New South Wales +3.66 °C, third highest on record; and South Australia +2.89 °C, sixth highest on record. This continues the string of very-warm months observed in Australia since spring last year, and again saw heatwaves across the continent. The records broken and notable near-misses are too numerous to list here, but are discussed in Special Climate Statement 43 along with the contributory weather patterns.

The monthly decile map shows maxima were above average for nearly all of Australia. Western Australia west of a line from Kalumburu to Perth generally saw near-average maxima, although parts of this region were also warmer than average, including the western Kimberley and west Gascoyne. Nearly all of the Northern Territory, New South Wales, inland Queensland, northern South Australia, and northeastern Victoria observed January maxima in the highest 10 per cent of records. A region spanning western Queensland with small cross-border extensions, and smaller areas in far southeastern New South Wales and western Western Australia observed their highest January monthly maxima on record. Anomalies for central Australia exceeded +3 °C, while anomalies in inland parts of the eastern States reached 4 to 6 degrees above average.

Minima were also above average for most of Australia, with large parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, the Cape York Peninsula, inland and southeastern Queensland, and northern and northeastern New South Wales observing January minima in the highest 10 per cent of records. Anomalies exceeding 2 to 3 degrees above average were recorded over a large area of central Australia and inland northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The national-average monthly minimum temperature was the third-highest on record at 1.26 °C above average. Queensland and Western Australia also recorded their third-highest January minima, with anomalies of +1.40 °C and +1.20 °C, respectively. Minima were near average for most of Tasmania, southern South Australia, Victoria excluding the northeast, and other small areas of central and northern Australia.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 104)
Comment Rank
(out of 104)
Australia 104 +2.28 highest on record (previous record 2.17, in 1932) 102 +1.26 third highest
Queensland 103 +2.62 second highest, highest since 1947 102 +1.40 third highest
New South Wales 102 +3.66 third highest, highest since 1939 96 +1.92
Victoria 95 +2.20 66 +0.37
Tasmania 82 +0.93 66 +0.12
South Australia 99 +2.89 sixth highest 79 +0.91
Western Australia 94 +1.25 102 +1.20 third highest
Northern Territory 104 +2.52 highest on record (previous record 2.39, in 1971) 98 +1.25

*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


For Australia as a whole, January's monthly rainfall was somewhat below average, at 64.4 mm compared to the long-term average of 79.9 mm. January rainfall was above average along the eastern coast of New South Wales and Queensland as well as across most of Western Australia. A large region of the eastern coast between Mackay and Newcastle, extending inland to near Walgett recorded totals in the highest 10 per cent of records with an area between Rockhampton and Bundaberg observing its highest January total on record. This rainfall was mostly due to a significant event near the end of the month as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald brought extreme falls across the Cape York Peninsula, coastal Queensland, and the coast of New South Wales from the Illawarra northwards, resulting in significant flooding in multiple catchments. Daily totals in excess of 400 mm were not uncommon around Rockhampton on the 25th while on the 26th and 27th similar totals were recorded around Gladstone and Bundaberg. Numerous southeast Queensland sites recorded totals exceeding 400 mm on the 28th, with two exceeding 700 mm. A summary of daily and multi-day rainfall records broken at various sites and across catchments is provided in the soon-to-be-released Special Climate Statement 44. Queensland was the only state to record above-average rainfall for the month, although it surpassed the January average (126.6 mm) by a mere 3.2 mm.

The Kimberley and Top End, central Australia, inland Queensland and New South Wales, and much of South Australia and Tasmania recorded below-average rainfall. Rainfall was especially deficient over most of Victoria, with most of the State except East Gippsland, Mallee, and Riverina recording monthly rainfall in the lowest 10 per cent of January records. Small areas of southern Victoria, inland New South Wales and Queensland observed their lowest recorded January total, with a number of stations in western and central Victoria receiving no rain for the month. Victoria recorded its seventh-driest January, 79 per cent below average; South Australian rainfall was 88 per cent below average and the driest since 1989; January in the Northern Territory was the driest since 1994 owing in part to the late onset of the North Australian Monsoon, although the area-average rainfall exhibited a smaller departure (45 per cent below average) than in the other two States.

Area-average rainfall
(out of 114)
from mean*
Australia 43 64.4 −19%
Queensland 70 129.8 +3%
New South Wales 72 56.2 −14%
Victoria 7 8.5 −79% seventh lowest
Tasmania 27 52.3 −31%
South Australia 14 2.8 −88% lowest since 1989
Western Australia 60 50.7 −11%
Northern Territory 22 66.4 −45% lowest since 1994
Murray-Darling Basin 51 36.5 −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 January 2013
Hottest day    49.63 °C at Moomba (SA) on 12 January
Coldest day    −5.3 °C at Mount Wellington (Tas) on 9 January
Coldest night    −2.3 °C at Mount Hotham (Vic) on 14 January
Warmest night    34.1 °C at Bedourie Police Station (Qld) on 14 January
Wettest day  556.8 mm at Pacific Heights (Qld) on 25 January


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 Friday 1 February 2013. 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.

The new ACORN-SAT temperature dataset has been used for calculation of State and national temperature area averages in summaries from December 2012 onwards. The major change from earlier datasets is that the ACORN-SAT dataset commences in 1910, rather than 1950, and hence rankings are calculated using a larger set of years.

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