Australia in March 2016

In brief

  • Australia's March mean temperature warmest on record at 1.70 °C above average
  • National March mean minimum temperatures warmest on record, with an anomaly of +1.97  °C
  • National March mean maximum temperature anomaly +1.42 °C, the seventh-warmest on record
  • Australia's warmest March day on record, on the 2nd
  • Prolonged March heatwave affects many parts of Australia
  • Australian rainfall for March was close to average overall
  • South Australia recorded its seventh-highest March rainfall (163% above average)

March 2016 was a very warm month for Australia. The national March mean temperature was the warmest on record at 1.70 °C above the historical average, exceeding the previous record set in March 1986 (+1.67 °C). The national area averaged minimum temperature anomaly (+1.97 °C) was also the highest recorded for the month of March, exceeding the previous record by 0.83 °C (set in 1983). The March mean daily maximum temperature was the seventh-highest on record at +1.42 °C for Australia.

Rainfall in March was above average in a broad swathe extending from southwest Western Australia, through South Australia and into northern Queensland, whilst below-average totals were received in the northwest, the Top End, eastern New South Wales and western Tasmania. Australia's total rainfall was very close to the March average, but ranged from 46% below average in New South Wales to 163% above average in South Australia.


March in Australia began with warmer than average maximum and minimum temperatures affecting much of the country. Australia's hottest March day on record occurred on the 2nd. On this day more than one-third of Australia recorded maximum temperatures in the warmest percentile. The persistence of the exceptionally high overnight temperatures throughout southern parts of Australia into the third week of the month are examined further in the Special Climate Statement on the prolonged March heatwave that affected many parts of Australia. The areal extent of minimum temperature was impressive, with more than four-fifths of the country observing mean daily minimum temperatures in the warmest decile.

Very much above average maxima were observed in the Top End, the central interior of the Northern Territory, Cape York Peninsula and the northwest of Western Australia including the eastern Pilbara and southern parts of the Northern Interior. Mean March daily maximum temperature were warmest on record inland of the Pilbara and the northwest coast of the Kimberley. Maxima that were well above average were also observed in northern Victoria, stretching westward into southeast South Australia, throughout much of New South Wales, and up into southern inland Queensland. The only areas of the country that recorded cooler than average maxima were in the Southeast Coastal, Eucla and Goldfields districts of Western Australia and parts of the West Coast district of South Australia.

Very much above average or highest on record mean daily minimum temperatures were recorded across all States and Territories. Average or above average minimum temperatures were only recorded in a few regions, including western and southern interior Western Australia, border regions between Northern Territory and Queensland, extending up into the Queensland Gulf Country and central interior of the Northern Territory, as well as throughout northeast New South Wales.

Mean temperatures were highest on record across the Cape York Peninsula and coastal far North Queensland, the Top End, northwest of Western Australia and across regions straddling the border between Victoria and New South Wales. Areas of very much above average mean temperatures occurred throughout all of southeastern Australia and into southern Queensland, throughout northern Western Australia and most of the Northern Territory. Average mean temperatures for March were recorded throughout much of the Goldfields.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Australia 101 +1.42 7th highest; highest since 2005 107 +1.97 highest (was +1.14 °C in 1983) 107 +1.70 highest (was +1.67 °C in 1986)
Queensland 90 +1.29 107 +1.96 highest (was +1.62 °C in 2015) 105 +1.63 3rd highest (record +2.25 °C in 2015)
New South Wales 102 +2.50 6th highest; highest since 1998 107 +2.48 highest (was +2.25 °C in 1983) 107 +2.49 highest (was +2.22 °C in 1940)
Victoria 102 +2.05 6th highest 106 +2.78 2nd highest (record +2.80 °C in 1974) 107 +2.42 highest (was +2.36 °C in 1974)
Tasmania 99 +1.19 9th highest 104 +1.50 4th highest (record +1.99 °C in 1974) 102 +1.35 6th highest
South Australia = 74 +0.84 105 +2.35 3rd highest (record +2.93 °C in 1971) 100 +1.59 8th highest
Western Australia 89 +0.99 106 +1.67 2nd highest (record +1.69 °C in 2005) 102 +1.33 6th highest; highest since 2005
Northern Territory 98 +2.07 10th highest 107 +1.80 highest (was +1.52 °C in 1947) 104 +1.94 4th highest (record +2.10 °C in 1942)

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 107 (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
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
Map of mean daily temperature Map of mean daily temperature anomalies Map of mean daily temperature deciles


Although total rainfall for Australia as a whole was close to average for March, there was considerable regional variation. Large parts of Australia observed below-average rainfall for the month. In eastern parts, below average rainfall was extensive across coastal and northern parts of New South Wales and adjacent areas of Queensland as far north as the Central Highlands. Western Tasmania had less rain than usual, and the State as a whole was 33% below the average.

Western Australia recorded close to average rainfall for the State as a whole, with below average rainfall recorded in the Pilbara and northern Gascoyne, and smaller areas of very much below average rainfall embedded in these districts. Above average rainfall was recorded about the Southwest Land Division of Western Australia and extended further inland to the Goldfields and up along the border with the Northern Territory through to the Kimberley, although not to the northern coast. Across parts of the southwest some very much above average rainfall totals were recorded. A smaller area of the South East Coastal district recorded highest on record rainfall for March.

In the Northern Territory, below average rainfall was recorded across western parts of the Top End. On the whole the Northern Territory recorded 17% less rainfall than the long term average. Above average rainfall totals were recorded through southern part of the Territory, with very much above average across border regions with central and southern Queensland and eastern South Australia. Areas of very much above average rainfall were observed throughout inland South Australia and parts of the southeast of the State. For South Australia as a whole, rainfall was the seventh-wettest March month on record. Queensland was the only other State to record above average rainfall (16% above normal), marking the State's first March since 2012 to record above average rainfall.

Area-average rainfall
(of 117)
from mean
Australia 69 62.0 +1%
Queensland 76 105.0 +16%
New South Wales 34 26.7 −46%
Victoria 61 35.9 −13%
Tasmania 32 60.3 −33%
South Australia 111 49.5 +163% 7th highest
Western Australia 60 41.4 −5%
Northern Territory 61 80.9 −17%
Murray-Darling Basin 35 21.9 −43%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 117 (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
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles

Australian weather extremes during March 2016
Hottest day   47.0 °C at Mardie (WA) on 03 March
Coldest day     4.1 °C at Mount Baw Baw (Vic.) on 19 March
Coldest night   −4.3 °C Liawenee (Tas) on 29 March
Warmest night   32.3 °C at Carnegie (WA) on 02 March
Wettest day 264.0 mm at Mount Jukes (Qld) on 07 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. 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 2 pm EST on Friday 1 March 2016. 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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