Australia in March 2017

In brief

  • An exceptionally warm month; all States except Western Australia warmest to fourth warmest on record
  • Nationally, the third-warmest March on record
  • Severe tropical cyclone Debbie brought torrential rainfall to Queensland and northern New South Wales
  • Rainfall above average for eastern Queensland, much of New South Wales, southwest Victoria and southeastern South Australia, and large parts of Western Australia
  • Below average rainfall for much of Tasmania, South Australia, the south of the Northern Territory, and parts of western New South Wales and western Queensland


The national mean temperature for March was the third-highest on record at 1.66 °C above average. The national mean maximum temperature was 1.87 °C above average and mean minimum temperature 1.44 °C above average; both the second-warmest on record for March. It was exceptionally warm across much of Australia, with mean temperatures for all States and the Northern Territory, except Western Australia, amongst the four warmest on record for mean temperatures. For Tasmania and much of Victoria, March temperatures were warmer than those for February during the previous month.

Maximum temperatures were very much above average (in the highest 10% of historical observations; decile 10) for Tasmania; Victoria; western to central New South Wales; western, central and most of northern Queensland; the southeastern half of the Northern Territory; nearly all of South Australia; and a strip along the eastern border of Western Australia south of Giles. New South Wales and southern Queensland have been exceptionally warm since the start of the year. Maxima were above average for the remainder of Queensland, the remainder of New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range, the eastern and central Top End, and an area of the east to southeast of Western Australia and some areas of the eastern Pilbara and the eastern to central Gascoyne districts.

Daytime temperatures were below average for South West Western Australia (the area south of a line between Jurien and Bremer bays) and an area on the northwest coast near Port Hedland.

Minimum temperatures were warmer than average for most of Australia. Minima were in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) for and area of central eastern Western Australia; the north and extreme east of the Northern Territory; most of Queensland except pockets of the central north and central south; all of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania; and along the eastern border of South Australia. Minima were warmest on record for large areas of the east coast in both Queensland and southern and central New South Wales, northeastern Tasmania, and areas around southwestern Queensland to northwestern New South Wales.

Minimum temperatures were near average for the Southwest Land Division and most of the south coast in Western Australia, an area of southwestern South Australia, and pockets of the central Northern Territory, extending across the border into the southern Kimberley in Western Australia.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 108)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Australia 107 +1.87 2nd highest (record +2.46 °C in 1986) 107 +1.44 2nd highest (record +1.97 °C in 2016) 106 +1.66 3rd highest (record +1.70 °C in 2016)
Queensland 105 +2.34 4th highest (record +2.88 °C in 2015) 107 +1.95 2nd highest (record +1.96 °C in 2016) 107 +2.15 2nd highest (record +2.25 °C in 2015)
New South Wales 100 +2.04 9th highest 108 +2.61 highest (was +2.48 °C in 2016) 107 +2.32 2nd highest (record +2.49 °C in 2016)
Victoria 107 +3.04 2nd highest (record +3.98 °C in 1940) 106 +2.62 3rd highest (record +2.80 °C in 1974) 108 +2.83 highest (was +2.42 °C in 2016)
Tasmania 107 +1.98 2nd highest (record +2.84 °C in 2013) 107 +1.68 2nd highest (record +1.99 °C in 1974) 106 +1.83 3rd highest (record +2.21 °C in 2013)
South Australia 106 +3.17 3rd highest (record +3.53 °C in 1986) 97 +1.45 106 +2.31 3rd highest (record +2.53 °C in 1986)
Western Australia = 71 +0.49 = 90 +0.64 84 +0.57
Northern Territory 104 +2.59 5th highest; highest since 1992 = 100 +1.32 equal 8th highest 105 +1.96 4th highest (record +2.10 °C in 1942)

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 108 (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


Nationally, rainfall for Australia during March was somewhat above average. However, this disguises marked differences in the rainfall received between different parts of the country.

March rainfall was above to very much above average across the east of the eastern States, extending across eastern Queensland from around Townsville south and across central and eastern New South Wales. Monthly rainfall was in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) along much of the east coast, due in large part to severe tropical cyclone Debbie. Numerous monthly and daily rainfall records were set in Queensland and New South Wales, with significant flooding ensuing.

Rainfall was also above average for southwestern Victoria and far southeastern South Australia; and across large parts of the western following an arc from the Victoria River district in the Northern Territory, through the inland Kimberley, much of the Pilbara and then south through the Interior district to the south coast of Western Australia. Rainfall was also above average for South West Western Australia. Tropical cyclone Blanche brought significant rain to some parts of the Northern Territory early in the month, while tropical cyclone Caleb had no direct effect on the Australian mainland.

March rainfall was below average for most of Tasmania, far western New South Wales, most of South Australia, parts of southwestern and western Queensland, and the south of the Northern Territory. Rainfall was also below average for an area of the western Gascoyne in Western Australia.

Area-average rainfall
(of 118)
from mean
Australia 78 66.7 +9%
Queensland 78 106.4 +17%
New South Wales 109 89.0 +82% 10th highest
Victoria 61 36.0 −12%
Tasmania 19 50.8 −44%
South Australia 17 2.4 −87%
Western Australia 86 62.4 +43%
Northern Territory 50 63.4 −35%
Murray-Darling Basin 91 56.3 +46%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 118 (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 2017
Hottest day 44.6 °C    at Mandora (WA) on the 5th
Coldest day 3.0 °C    at Mount Baw Baw (Vic.) on the 30th
Coldest night −3.9 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) and Liawenee (Tas.) on the 31st
Warmest night 30.2 °C    at Oodnadatta Airport (SA) on the 27th
Wettest day 478.0 mm at Boat Harbour (Rous River) (NSW) on the 31st


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 1 pm EST on Monday 3 April 2017. 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.

Further information

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