Australia in May 2019

In brief

  • Warmer than average May for Australia
  • Both mean maximum and minimum temperature above average for large parts of the country, but nights cooler than average for the southern half of Western Australia
  • Rainfall for the month below to very much below average for most of Western Australia and along the east coast
  • Rainfall above average for much of the Northern Territory, Queensland's northern Peninsula, and parts of coastal South Australia, Victoria, and inland southern New South Wales
  • It has been the warmest January–May on record for Australia, with rainfall also below to very much below average over most of the country


May was warmer than average for Australia as a whole, with the national mean temperature 0.65 °C above average. The mean maximum and minimum temperature for the month were 1.04 °C and 0.25 °C above average respectively.

For the year to date, Australia has observed the warmest mean temperature on record for the January–May period. The mean maximum and mean minimum temperature have respectively been the highest and second-highest on record for Australia over the same period.

Maximum temperatures were above to very much above average over much of Western Australia, the west of the Northern Territory and southern Top End, Tasmania, coastal regions of the eastern States, and along the border of South Australia and Victoria/New South Wales. The mean maximum temperature was very much above average (in the highest 10% of historical observations) across much of northwest Western Australia, and contributed to the mean monthly maximum temperature for the State as a whole coming in at sixth-warmest on record for May. Mean maximum temperatures were close to average across the remainder of Australia.

The mean minimum temperature for the month was warmer than average for most of northern Australia, and the eastern States, but cooler than average for central and southern Western Australia, and the west of South Australia. The mean minimum temperature was very much below average (in the lowest 10% of historical observations) across the southern half of the South West Land Division, extending across southern districts to the western Nullarbor Plain.

Northerly winds ahead of a cold front brought a warm start to the month for eastern Australia. Record high daily minimum temperature for May was observed at a large number of stations in New South Wales between the 1st and the 3rd, including Sydney, and at a number of stations in Victoria during the 24 hours to 9 am on the 2nd. A few stations in New South Wales also observed record high daily maximum temperatures for May.

Some stations in northwestern Western Australia observed their warmest monthly mean maximum temperature for May.

A pool of cold air behind a low pressure system combined with clear skies associated with a high pressure system brought the coolest May night on record to some stations in Western Australia on the 18th and 19th. Some stations in southern Western Australia observed their coolest monthly mean minimum temperature for May, and a few observed their lowest monthly mean temperature for May, both including Perth.

A few stations in South Australia also observed their coolest May day on record in southerly flow associated with a cold front on the 9th.

A series of cold fronts brought cool and rainy conditions to southeastern Australia during the last week of the month, including good falls of snow across alpine areas, with temperatures four to eight degrees cooler than average for May across large areas. Some sites in New South Wales and Queensland set records for lowest May temperature on the last day of the month.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 110)
Comment Rank
(of 110)
Comment Rank
(of 110)
Australia 92 +1.04 78 +0.25 89 +0.65
Queensland 69 +0.51 = 98 +1.38 94 +0.95
New South Wales 84 +0.90 91 +0.95 95 +0.92
Victoria = 80 +0.63 93 +0.71 94 +0.67
Tasmania 83 +0.34 88 +0.54 88 +0.44
South Australia = 72 +0.73 51 −0.36 63 +0.19
Western Australia 105 +1.88 6th highest; highest since 2008 21 −0.97 76 +0.46
Northern Territory 83 +0.55 89 +1.04 87 +0.79

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 110 (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 May was below to very much below average across most of Western Australia, with a large number of stations, mostly in the west of the State, observing their driest May on record. Rainfall for the month was also below average across parts of the eastern mainland taking in coastal New South Wales, eastern Queensland as far north as the Central Coast, and parts of central Queensland.

For the year to date (January–May), rainfall has been below to very much below average over much of Australia, with above average rainfall for the five months restricted to parts of northern, central and western Queensland, and small pockets on the northeastern tip of the Northern Territory Top End and Western Australia's Pilbara coast. Rainfall for the period has been the lowest on record along a strip of the Western Australian coastline between about Bunbury and just south of Shark Bay.

Unusually late tropical activity in May led to the development of two late-season tropical cyclones; Lili in early May, affecting the Top End, and Ann in mid-May, which passed from the Coral Sea across Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. Resulting widespread rainfall across the north of the Northern Territory and across far northern Queensland, as well as substantial rainfall in the south of the Northern Territory after mid-Month, contributed to above average rainfall across the northern half of the Northern Territory, part of Central Australia, the northeastern Kimberley in Western Australia, and much of the northern Peninsula in Queensland.

The passage of surface pressure troughs and cold fronts throughout the month brought above average May rainfall for some parts of southern South Australia, Victoria, and inland southern New South Wales. Some of these rain events set daily rainfall records, including early in the month and on the 10th in Victoria, and early in the month in New South Wales. The event in Victoria overnight on the 9th and into the 10th saw a semi-stationary storm cell located over the western half of Central District, which produced large accumulations of small hail and heavy rain leading to flash flooding in the Cape Paterson area, just south of Wonthaggi.

Further cold fronts and troughs led to a persistent rainy period over southeastern Australia at the end of the month, but with generally modest daily totals. Despite above average rainfall totals for the month over parts of southeastern Australia, rainfall this month has been insufficient to reduce significant rainfall deficiencies over much of this area. The greatest change has been observed in some parts of western Victoria and parts of agricultural districts in South Australia for the periods commencing October–2018 and January–2019. Further details will be included in the Drought Statement, to be released later in the week.

Area-average rainfall
(of 120)
from mean
Australia 28 15.7 −45%
Queensland 38 12.4 −59%
New South Wales 51 28.7 −39%
Victoria 98 83.5 +29%
Tasmania 67 131.9 −4%
South Australia 70 18.6 −13%
Western Australia 3 4.4 −83% 3rd lowest (record 3.5 mm in 1948)
Northern Territory 84 13.7 +1%
Murray-Darling Basin 64 32.7 −23%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 120 (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 May 2019
Hottest day 39.7 °C    at Mandora (WA) on the 5th
Coldest day −3.8 °C    at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on the 29th
Coldest night −9.8 °C    at Glen Innes Airport AWS (NSW) on the 31st
Warmest night 27.5 °C    at Fitzroy Crossing Airport (WA) on the 5th
Wettest day 126.0 mm at Falls Creek (Rocky Valley) (Vic.) on the 3rd


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 following 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 June 2019. 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. Temperature area averages are derived from the ACORN-SAT version 2 dataset. Rainfall area averages, along with rainfall and temperature maps, are derived from the AWAP dataset.

Further information

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