Australia in March 2013

In Brief

March maximum temperatures were 0.66 °C above average for Australia as a whole. Maxima were above average for southern South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania (highest on record), and most of the northern half of Australia. Maxima were generally below average for the east coast between Mackay and northeastern New South Wales, and also for Western Australia south of Geraldton. Minimum temperatures were also above average, at +0.82 °C for Australia as a whole. Minima were above average across the majority of Australia, and near average for most of the southern half of Western Australia away from the South Australian border, the northeastern half of New South Wales, and the southeastern half of Queensland. Both maxima and minima were also above average for each individual State and Territory average.

Averaged over Australia, March rainfall was near average. Across the Top End and Cape York Peninsula, southwest Western Australia, central Australia and inland northern New South Wales rainfall was generally above average. Below-average rainfall was mostly restricted to western Victoria, the Pilbara and an area of Queensland's Gulf Country.


March continued the recent string of warm months for Australia, following on from Australia's warmest summer on record and giving the second warmest start to the year in terms of maximum temperatures (January–March). Southeast Australia experienced a significant heatwave during the first half of March. Melbourne recorded 9 days above 32 °C between 4 and 12 March, setting a record for the longest string of consecutive days above 30 °C in any month and for the month as a whole. Other records set in this heatwave are summarised in Special Climate Statement 45 – A prolonged autumn heatwave for southeast Australia. A number of late season State records were also set across the southeast on 27 March, including 42.9 °C at Birdsville Airport (Queensland), 40.9 °C at Fowlers Gap (New South Wales) and 38.8 °C at Swan Hill Aerodrome (Victoria).

Maxima were above average for Australia as a whole, with a national anomaly of +0.66 °C. Tasmania and Victoria recorded the largest departures from the long-term average; +2.86 and +2.10 °C respectively for those State's highest and fifth highest March maxima on record. Maxima were above to very much above average for the South Australian coast and adjacent Western Australia, Victoria and southwestern and Riverina New South Wales, much of the Pilbara and Kimberley, the Northern Territory excluding the Top End, and the western half of Queensland south of the Cape York Peninsula. As previously mentioned, maxima were the highest on record across Tasmania. Maxima were below average for Western Australia south of Geraldton, and mostly in the lowest 10% of records along the southern coast, and also below average for eastern Queensland south of Mackay and for northeastern New South Wales.

Minima were above to very much above average for most of Australia, for a nation-wide anomaly of +0.82 °C. A large part of Northern Territory, a band along the Western Australian border and eastern Kimberley, southern South Australia and most of Victoria excluding the central north and east recording March minima in the highest 10% of records (decile 1). Tasmania recorded decile 1 minima in the north and highest on record over-night temperatures in the south of the State. Tasmania's March-averaged minima was the third highest on record for that State (+1.59 °C), Victoria and South Australia's their eight highest (+1.71 and +1.56 °C, respectively), and the Northern Territory's its ninth highest (+1.30 °C). No State or Territory recorded a below average monthly minima, although overnight temperatures were near average for Western Australia west of Esperance and south of Carnarvon, and a large area of the eastern States northeast South Australia across southeastern Queensland to Townsville and across New South Wales excluding the southwest and Riverina. Small areas of below-average minima were recorded near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and in Queensland near Mackay.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 104)
Comment Rank
(out of 104)
Australia 75 +0.66 93 +0.82
Queensland 65.5 +0.35 80.5 +0.51
New South Wales 62 +0.19 77 +0.60
Victoria 100 +2.10 fifth highest 97 +1.71 eighth highest, highest since 1989
Tasmania 104 +2.86 highest, previous record +1.94 (1971) 102 +1.59 third highest, highest since 1974
South Australia 79 +0.96 97 +1.56 eighth highest
Western Australia 52 +0.02 84.5 +0.44
Northern Territory 94 +2.01 96.5 +1.30 ninth highest

*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, March monthly rainfall was 562.1 mm, a scant 1% above the long-term average. March rainfall was above average across the northern Cape York Peninsula and the Top End, northern Tasmania, most of southern Western Australia excluding the Eucla, and in a band extending through central Australia to northern and eastern New South Wales west of the Great Dividing Range and adjacent parts of southern Queensland. South Australia recorded the largest departure from the long-term average, with rainfall 29% above the March average. A large part of southwest Western Australia recorded rainfall in the highest 10% of records, as did parts of the Top End.

Victoria and Queensland recorded below-average monthly totals (24 and 13% below the March average, respectively). Western Victoria and some adjacent parts of southeastern South Australia recorded below average rainfall, as did parts of coastal northwestern Western Australia (most notably through the Pilbara), part of the Gulf Country extending in a narrow band from the coast to central Queensland, as well as other scattered areas of the north.

Area-average rainfall
(out of 114)
from mean*
Australia 67 62.1 +1%
Queensland 55 79.1 −13%
New South Wales 76 53.9 +10%
Victoria 51 31.3 −24%
Tasmania 74 101.3 +13%
South Australia 85 24.2 +29%
Western Australia 68 46.4 +6%
Northern Territory 82 107.0 +9%
Murray-Darling Basin 75 43.2 +12%

*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 2013
Hottest day    46.0 °C at Roebourne (WA) on 20 March
Coldest day      2.2 °C at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on 17 March
Coldest night    −3.6 °C at Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on 18 March
Warmest night    32.1 °C at Gascoyne Junction (WA) on 8 March
Wettest day  329.0 mm at Mooral Creek (The Den) (NSW) on 3 March


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 pm EST on Tuesday 2 April 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.

Further information

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