Australia in February 2018

In brief

  • A warm month for Australia as a whole
  • Mean maximum temperature above average for most of the eastern half of Australia; cooler than average for much of Western Australia
  • Mean minimum temperature above average for much of Australia; generally near average for the east coast, and for Western Australia away from the south coast
  • February rainfall below average for the mainland southeast, western Queensland and north of the Cape York Peninsula, and most of the Northern Territory
  • Rainfall above average for the southeastern quarter of Queensland and much of Western Australia, particularly in the Kimberley and the southeast

Temperatures

February was warmer than average for much of Australia, and particularly warm for Queensland. For Australia as a whole the monthly mean temperature was 0.64 °C above the long-term average, with both maxima and minima above average at +0.66 °C and +0.62 °C respectively.

For Queensland the monthly mean temperature was the eighth-warmest on record for February (+1.38 °C), while the mean minimum temperature was ninth-warmest (+1.08 °C) and the mean maximum temperature was just outside the top ten at +1.68 °C. Minima were also particularly warm for the Northern Territory, coming in as the equal fifth-warmest on record for February and warmest since 1992 (+1.00 °C).

Maximum temperatures were above average across nearly all of the eastern mainland States (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria) and also for South Australia and the south and east of the Northern Territory. Maxima were in the warmest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) for February across central and western Queensland and the southeast of the Northern Territory. Above average rainfall led to cooler than average mean monthly maxima for much of Western Australia.

Minimum temperatures for the month were above average across the Northern Territory, South Australia, the western halves of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, the north of Tasmania, and the south of Western Australia. Minima were cooler than average for an area of Queensland's North Tropical Coast and in Western Australia spanning the western Kimberley and northern Interior District.

The month got off to a cool start with a slow-moving high pressure system over the Great Australian Bight and a surface trough extending across inland northern Australia. Cool days saw some stations in northeastern New South Wales set records for lowest February daily maximum temperature on the 2nd, and in southeastern Queensland on the 2nd and 3rd.

Northerly winds ahead of a sequence of cold fronts brought warm days to the southeast from the 7th, before warmth moved into Queensland and the Northern Territory with very warm days affecting the southern half of the Territory and much of Queensland south of the Peninsula between the 11th and 20th. Queensland observed two consecutive days with a statewide mean maximum temperature in excess of 40 °C on the 12th and 13th, the first time this has been recorded. In area-averaged terms, the 12th was Queensland's warmest February day on record (statewide mean maximum temperature 40.46 °C). A number of stations in Queensland observed record warm days between the 12th and 14th, with a few stations also setting records for warm nights on the 13th or 14th, while further north around Cairns a few locations set records for coolest February night on the 12th, associated with cool onshore flow.

In the west of the country a tropical low at the start of the month resulted in a couple of stations in northern and central Western Australia observing record low February daily maximum or minimum temperatures on the 1st. Tropical cyclone Kelvin saw a few stations in the western Kimberley experience record cool February daily maxima on the 16th.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 109)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 109)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 109)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 87 +0.66 97 +0.62 97 +0.64
Queensland 98 +1.68 101 +1.08 9th highest 102 +1.38 8th highest
New South Wales 95 +1.79 79 +0.81 91 +1.30
Victoria 90 +1.15 83 +0.86 90 +1.01
Tasmania 64 −0.09 78 +0.37 72 +0.14
South Australia 91 +1.47 92 +1.17 92 +1.32
Western Australia 25 −1.15 = 58 −0.19 = 32 −0.66
Northern Territory 89 +1.40 = 104 +1.00 equal 5th highest; highest since 1992 = 100 +1.20 equal 9th highest; highest since 1992

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
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

Rainfall for Australia as a whole was below average for February. Rainfall for the month was below average for the western half of Queensland and much of the Cape York Peninsula, large parts of the Northern Territory, the western two thirds of New South Wales, nearly all of Victoria, and parts of the east of South Australia. February rainfall was above average across most of Western Australia, the southeastern quarter of Queensland, and an area of the Southern Tablelands in New South Wales, including the northern half of the Australian Capital Territory.

Eastern Queensland observed a wet start to the month, with some heavy falls in the North Tropical Coast during the first week.

Strong and gusty winds affected southeast Australia during the 14th associated with the passage of a cold front and line of organised convection, although the system was generally accompanied by only light rainfall with some thunderstorms. Wind gusts in excess of 100 km/h were observed in northern Tasmania (including 146 km/h at King Island Airport, 150 km/h at Hogan Island, and 104 km/h at Launceston) and southern Victoria (including 133 km/h at Wilsons Prom, 109 km/h at St Kilda, 106 km/h at South Channel Island, and 104 km/h at Essendon). There were reports of damage to roofs, fallen trees, lightning strikes, and disruptions to electricity supply and transport. Raised dust was also observed on visibility meters over north-west Victoria, with Swan Hill down to 1500 m.

During the middle of the month tropical cyclone Kelvin brought moderate to heavy rainfall over the Top End in the Northern Territory before moving over Western Australia's Kimberley, where daily rainfall records for February were set at some stations. Flooding affected some parts of the western Kimberley, with resulting road closures and damage to transport infrastructure.

Severe thunderstorms caused damage and moderate to heavy rainfall in the Central Highlands and Coalfields District of Queensland on the 20th. Heavy rain and flash flooding was reported in greater southeastern Queensland during the last week of the month. This was associated with a very moist air mass over eastern Queensland during the week, combined with a broad upper-level disturbance and surface trough.

A series of weak cold fronts crossed the southeast from the early hours of the 24th, and in combination with a surface trough, produced moderate falls over western and northern Tasmania, including some February daily rainfall records. Moderate to very heavy falls followed over parts of southeastern New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory into the morning of the 26th, including some daily rainfall records for February. Flash flooding resulted in Canberra.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 119)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 53 70.3 −8%
Queensland 44 103.1 −11%
New South Wales 35 32.6 −36%
Victoria 20 11.8 −63%
Tasmania 73 74.0 +12%
South Australia = 68 16.5 −16%
Western Australia 95 86.1 +43%
Northern Territory 36 70.9 −41%
Murray-Darling Basin 47 29.7 −27%

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


Australian weather extremes during February 2018
Hottest day 46.5 °C    at Winton Airport (Qld) on the 14th
Coldest day 5.6 °C    at kunanyi (Mount Wellington Pinnacle) (Tas.) on the 16th
Coldest night −3.2 °C    at Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on the 1st
Warmest night 34.2 °C    at Boulia Airport (Qld) on the 14th
Wettest day 370.6 mm at Broome Airport (WA) on the 17th


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 1 pm EST on Thursday 1 March 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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