Australia in May 2014

In Brief

Maximum temperatures during May were warmer than average across most of Australia, except for some parts of coastal Queensland and the west of Western Australia. A small area of coastal Western Australia north of Perth recorded cooler-than-average days for the month. Overnight minimum temperatures were warmer than average for the majority of Australia, with a large area focused on outback South Australia recording its warmest May on record for minimum temperatures. The national maximum temperature anomaly of +1.57 °C and minimum temperature anomaly of +1.66 °C combined to give a mean temperature anomaly of +1.62 °C. Persistent warmth during the month (see Special Climate Statement 49 – an exceptionally prolonged autumn warm spell over much of Australia for details) saw Australia record its third-warmest May on record for mean temperatures.

May rainfall was below average for large parts of the eastern states including much of southern central Victoria, coastal and northern New South Wales and large areas of Queensland's south, east coast and inland west. Rainfall was above average for much of Western Australia, southwest South Australia and the west of the Top End of the Northern Territory. Nationally, rainfall was 25% below average for May.


Temperatures

Daytime temperatures during May were warmer than average across most of Australia. Daytime temperatures were near average for parts of the Queensland coast and the west of Western Australia, and below average between Perth and Geraldton. For 53% of Australia the monthly mean maximum temperature was in the highest 10% of records for May, and the highest on record for a small area on the South Australian–Queensland border and isolated areas around the southern coast and in the Northern Territory. The national area-averaged maximum temperature anomaly for May was +1.57 °C (fifth-highest on record). Monthly mean maximum temperatures were in the five warmest years on record for New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Following a brief cold period at the start of the month, May was dominated by a long-lived warm spell, which affected most of the country. A stable blocking pattern of high pressure over the Tasman Sea resulted in a generally northerly or northwesterly flow over most of southeastern Australia from the second week of May almost until the end of the month, bringing warm air from northern Australia and the Indian Ocean over most of the eastern states. A number of individual locations have set records for their warmest day so late in the season, but the event was especially significant because of its persistence, resulting in numerous records for consecutive days above certain thresholds, and for unusually warm overnight temperatures. Details of records set can be found in Special Climate Statement 49 – an exceptionally prolonged autumn warm spell over much of Australia.

Minimum temperatures were above average for the majority of Australia, with near-average minima recorded in a small area of inland Western Australia, parts of eastern New South Wales and parts of coastal northern Australia. The monthly mean minimum temperature was in the highest 10% of records for May for most of South Australia, Victoria, western New South Wales, parts of western and southwestern Queensland, the south of the Northern Territory, western and southwestern Western Australia and the Pilbara (47% of Australia in total). For an area of South Australia extending from the top of the Great Australian Bite to just across the Queensland border, it was the warmest May on record in terms of minimum temperatures. For South Australia as a whole, monthly minima were the warmest on record for May (3.03 °C above average) while the national area-averaged minimum temperature anomaly for May was +1.66 °C (fifth-highest on record).


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 105)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 105)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 105)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 101 +1.57 5th highest 101 +1.66 5th highest 103 +1.62 3rd highest (record +2.11 °C in 1958)
Queensland 96 +1.30 10th highest 94 +1.13 98 +1.22 8th highest
New South Wales 100 +1.98 6th highest 92 +1.20 102 +1.59 4th highest (record +2.14 °C in 2007)
Victoria 102 +1.67 4th highest (record +2.40 °C in 1947) 101 +1.79 5th highest 103 +1.73 3rd highest (record +2.22 °C in 2007)
Tasmania 94 +0.83 92 +0.98 95 +0.90
South Australia 101 +2.31 5th highest 105 +3.03 highest (was +2.75 °C in 2013) 105 +2.67 highest (was +2.57 °C in 2013)
Western Australia 88 +1.10 100 +1.65 6th highest 101 +1.38 5th highest
Northern Territory 102 +2.01 4th highest (record +2.55 °C in 1958) 94 +1.63 100 +1.82 6th highest

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 105 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average.


Temperature maps
MeanAnomalyDeciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of mean daily maximum temperature Map of mean daily maximum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily maximum temperature deciles
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of mean daily minimum temperature Map of mean daily minimum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily minimum temperature deciles
Mean
daily
temperatures
Map of mean daily temperature Map of mean daily temperature anomalies Map of mean daily temperature deciles

Rainfall

Nationally-averaged rainfall during May was 25% below the long-term mean, mostly as a result of below-average rainfall in the eastern states. The persistence of a blocking high pressure pattern over the Tasman Sea from mid-May onwards saw rain-bearing cold fronts slipping south of the mainland southeast as they approached from the west. The fronts did bring rain to the southwest of Western Australia and around the top of the Great Australian Bight while northwesterly flow behind the high brought rainfall to parts of northern and inland Western Australia.

Rainfall was above average for much of the west of the continent, including the west of the Top End, the western, west coast and Flinders areas of South Australia, and most of Western Australia. The eastern Kimberley, an area extending through the eastern Pilbara to the area around Wiluna and through the north of the South West Land Division and Southeastern Coastal District had average or below average rainfall. Despite these areas of low totals, Western Australia and South Australia recorded above-average rainfall while the other states and the Northern Territory came in below average. Mean rainfall for Western Austalia was 32% above their long-term area-average and South Australia 9% above average.

Rainfall was below average along the eastern coast of New South Wales to as far north as Townsville, over large areas of inland northern New South Wales, southern Queensland and parts of the northern Cape York Peninsula, central southern Victoria and northeastern Tasmania. A large area extending from inland western Queensland through much of the Victoria River and Barkly districts of the Northern Territory also recorded below-average rainfall, although apart from western Queensland these areas typically receive very little rainfall during May. Queensland recorded the largest departure from the long-term mean, with May rainfall 72% below average


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 115)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 49 21.3 −25%
Queensland 21 8.6 −72%
New South Wales 36 20.6 −56%
Victoria 47 46.7 −28%
Tasmania 49 111.1 −19%
South Australia 78 23.2 +9%
Western Australia 87 33.9 +32%
Northern Territory 56 4.3 −68%
Murray-Darling Basin 36 21.8 −49%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 115 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. Departure from mean is relative to the long-term (1961–1990) average.


Rainfall maps
TotalsPercentagesDeciles
Total
rainfall
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles


Australian weather extremes during May 2014
Hottest day   38.3 °C at Bradshaw (NT) on 2 May
Coldest day   −1.2 °C at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 2 May,
and Charlotte Pass (Kosciusko Chalet) (NSW) on 1 May
Coldest night   −9.4 °C at Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on 8 May
Warmest night   28.2 °C at McCluer Island (NT) on 1 May
Wettest day 144.0 mm at Daradgee (Qld) on 16 May


Notes

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. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

Climate Summaries are usually published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 12 noon EST on Monday 2 June 2014. 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.

The system used for calculating areal averages of rainfall was changed in May 2009; the main effect was that current and historical values for Tasmania were increased. Since December 2012, ACORN-SAT has been used for calculating areal averages of temperature; the major change from earlier datasets is that the ACORN-SAT dataset commences in 1910, and hence rankings are calculated using a larger set of years.


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