Australia in January 2018

In brief

  • An exceptionally warm month for Australia as a whole, third-warmest January on record
  • January was amongst the ten warmest on record for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia
  • Mean maximum temperature above average for most of eastern Australia, Central Australia, and South Australia; cooler than average for parts of the northwest
  • Mean minimum temperature above average for most of eastern Australia and southern Australia; cooler than average for parts of the Kimberley in Western Australia and western Top End in the Northern Territory
  • January rainfall above to very much above average for the western half of Australia and parts of Far Northern Queensland
  • Rainfall below average for most of Queensland south of the Cape York Peninsula, northeastern New South Wales, western to central Tasmania, and parts of western Victoria


January was an exceptionally warm month for Australia as a whole; the monthly mean temperature was the third-warmest on record for January, while the mean maximum temperature was equal eighth-warmest and the mean minimum temperature was equal fifth-warmest. For individual States, January's monthly mean temperature was second-warmest on record for Tasmania and equal second-warmest on record for Queensland. All of the States, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, ranked amongst the ten warmest on record for both monthly mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures.

Maximum temperatures were above average across nearly all of the eastern States (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania), South Australia, and the southern half of the Northern Territory. Maxima were in the warmest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) for January across most of this area. A number of stations across southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania had their warmest mean maximum temperature on record for January. Hobart just missed out; the mean daily maximum temperature for Hobart (Ellerslie Road) was 24.4 °C, 2.7 °C above the long-term average and second-warmest on record for January.

Maxima were below average for much of the Kimberley and eastern Pilbara in Western Australia, extending into part of the Interior District, and across the south of the Top End to parts of the Gulf coast. This corresponds to areas which received very much above average rainfall for the month.

Minimum temperatures for the month were above average across the eastern States, South Australia, the southwest of the Northern Territory, and most of the southern half of Western Australia, extending northward through the Gascoyne and western half of the Pilbara. However, minima were near average for the southwest of Western Australia and along much of the east coast of Queensland. Minima were also near average for most of the remainder of the Northern Territory and the remainder of the northern half of Western Australia. Minima were below average for regions adjacent to the coast of the western Top End and of the Kimberley.

A pulse of warm weather travelled along the southern coast during the first week of the month, culminating in a short-lived heatwave over the southeast between the 6th and 7th. Some sites, mostly in the Sydney region, recorded their highest January temperature on record on the 7th, including 47.3 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS, which is Greater Sydney's second-warmest day on record (Richmond holds the record of 47.8 °C in January 1939). Several hundred flying foxes died in Sydney's western suburbs, while in Victoria the hot conditions were associated with more than 100 grass- and bushfires, although fortunately causing relatively little property damage.

The month came to a very warm end in the southeast when hot and very humid air fed down from Queensland into Victoria and Tasmania. Several sites in central and southern Tasmania reached temperatures in the high 30s on the 28th, while temperatures peaked in the mid-40s in Victoria. Overnight temperatures were particularly notable, with many sites setting January records in Tasmania on the 28th or 29th, and a handful in Victoria and New South Wales. Following the heatwave, a strong cool change brought below average temperatures for the last two days of the month, some locally heavy rainfall, and snow in the highlands of Tasmania.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 109)
Comment Rank
(of 109)
Comment Rank
(of 109)
Australia = 101 +1.32 equal 8th highest = 104 +1.23 equal 5th highest 107 +1.28 3rd highest (record +1.77 °C in 2013)
Queensland 105 +2.26 5th highest 107 +1.72 3rd highest (record +2.25 °C in 2006) = 107 +1.99 equal 2nd highest (record +2.00 °C in 2013)
New South Wales 107 +3.78 3rd highest (record +4.56 °C in 1939) 104 +2.46 6th highest 105 +3.12 5th highest
Victoria 106 +3.17 4th highest (record +3.63 °C in 1981) 104 +2.32 6th highest; highest since 2006 106 +2.75 4th highest (record +3.27 °C in 2001)
Tasmania 108 +2.59 2nd highest (record +2.91 °C in 1961) 101 +1.09 9th highest 108 +1.84 2nd highest (record +2.12 °C in 1961)
South Australia 100 +2.42 10th highest 100 +2.13 10th highest 102 +2.28 8th highest
Western Australia 50 −0.04 89 +0.43 67 +0.20
Northern Territory 61 −0.07 84 +0.44 73 +0.19

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 109 (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


Rainfall for Australia as a whole was above average for January. January rainfall was above average across Western Australia, most of South Australia west of Spencer Gulf, most of the Northern Territory, and much of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Monthly rainfall was below average for most of Queensland south of the Peninsula and across the northeastern third of New South Wales, reaching as far south along the coast as the Illawarra District. Rainfall for January was also below average for most of Tasmania away from the east, and across southwestern and northwestern Victoria and adjacent parts of southeast South Australia.

Tropical cyclone Joyce during the first half of the month, and a slow-moving tropical low later in the month, produced widespread significant rainfall over the Northern Territory and Western Australia. For Western Australia as a whole, it was the fifth-wettest January on record. Numerous stations in Western Australia and the Northern Territory observed their highest monthly rainfall total on record for January.

As an ex-tropical cyclone, the remnant low associated with Joyce brought heavy rainfall along the west coast of Australia, including in the Perth region, between the 14th and 16th, with many sites observing record high daily rainfall totals for January.

The monsoon trough became active over northern Australia from about the 18th, with monsoon onset in the Northern Territory officially occurring on 21 January (equal fourth-latest onset since 1957). Monsoon activity continued to the end of the month, with frequent heavy rain over the Cape York Peninsula, and a tropical low forming over the Top End around the 20th. The low was slow-moving as it gradually progressed in a southwesterly direction, finishing the month over the Pilbara. A couple of sites in the Northern Territory had their highest January daily rainfall on record during the 24 hours to 9 am on the 28th. Major flooding occurred on the Daly River leading to the evacuation of the township.

The end of the month also brought a wet few days for the southeast associated with the passage of a strong cold front, with locally heavy falls and some thunderstorms affecting Victoria and Tasmania. On the 28th Wangaratta Aero had its highest January daily rainfall on record. Most of the rain fell in an hour, with the intensity for durations of 30 minutes to 3 hours having an annual exceedance probability of less than 1% (a less frequent than a 1-in-100 year event at those durations).

Area-average rainfall
(of 119)
from mean
Australia 100 99.9 +25%
Queensland 31 82.6 −35%
New South Wales 28 30.1 −54%
Victoria 56 33.4 −16%
Tasmania 24 49.4 −35%
South Australia 81 20.7 −15%
Western Australia 115 119.0 +110% 5th highest
Northern Territory 106 203.7 +70%
Murray-Darling Basin 22 22.2 −60%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 119 (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 January 2018
Hottest day 47.4 °C    at Marree Aero (SA) on the 22nd
and Wudinna Aero (SA) on the 19th
Coldest day 6.5 °C    at Mount Baw Baw (Vic.) on the 30th
Coldest night −1.5 °C    at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on the 14th
Warmest night 34.4 °C    at Birdsville Airport (Qld.) on the 12th
Wettest day 448.8 mm at West Roebuck (WA) on the 30th


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 Thursday 1 February 2018. 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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