Australia in August 2021

In brief

  • Mean maximum temperatures for August were above average almost throughout Australia, with the most significant anomalies in subtropical and tropical Australia.
  • Mean minimum temperatures for August were also above average in most of Australia, with the strongest anomalies in Queensland and Tasmania
  • August rainfall was below average over much of Australia outside the tropics, although only small areas were very much below average.
  • For Australia as a whole, rainfall was 39% below average.

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for August was 1.38 °C warmer than the 1961–1990 average for Australia as a whole, making it the sixth- warmest August on record. It was the second-warmest August on record for Queensland, after 2009, and ranked in the ten warmest for New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

The mean maximum temperature for August was the ninth-warmest on record for Australia as a whole, 1.77 °C above average. The mean minimum temperature was 0.99 °C above average.

Mean maximum temperatures were above average over almost the entire continent, and were at least 1 °C above average over most mainland areas away from the southern coastline, reaching 3 °C or more above average in parts of southern inland Queensland. Some areas along the northern coasts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, including Darwin and Broome, had their highest mean August maximum temperature on record. Areas in the highest 10% of historical observations included most of tropical Australia, along with coastal New South Wales and some areas around Melbourne. Maximum temperatures were within 1 °C of average in most of Tasmania, and in parts of southern Victoria, southern South Australia and the southwest of Western Australia.

Mean minimum temperatures were also above average over most of Australia, although not as consistently as for maximum temperature. Minimum temperatures were at least 1 °C above average over most of Queensland, reaching 2 °C or more above average in most areas north of a Townsville - Mount Isa line, as well as in the far south-west. Some areas had their warmest August mean minimums on record, especially around the Gulf of Carpentaria coast. Minimum temperatures were also more than 1 °C above average over most of Tasmania and parts of southern Victoria, as well as parts of the Northern Territory Top End, parts of the Kimberley and Pilbara coasts in Western Australia, and Western Australia's southern interior. Minimum temperatures were locally below average in the southern Northern Territory, and were generally close to average in inland New South Wales, and in South Australia from Adelaide northwards.

The month was consistently warm in many areas, with Sydney setting an August record with 15 consecutive days of 20 °C or above from the 9th to the 23rd. However, few significant daily records were set, with records at long-term stations largely confined to high maximum temperatures along the northern coast of the Northern Territory, and high minimum temperatures at a few locations in Queensland. There was a sharp end to the warm spell in New South Wales with the passage of a low in the Tasman Sea, with Nowra experiencing its warmest and coldest August days of the 21st century on successive days on the 23rd and 24th.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 104 +1.77 9th highest 102 +0.99 107 +1.38 6th highest
Queensland 108 +2.04 5th highest 110 +2.22 3rd highest (record +2.54 °C in 1998) 111 +2.13 2nd highest (record +3.35 °C in 2009)
New South Wales 100 +1.77 = 94 +0.74 103 +1.26 10th highest
Victoria = 97 +1.27 = 97 +0.68 103 +0.98 10th highest
Tasmania = 93 +0.62 103 +1.19 10th highest 104 +0.91 9th highest
South Australia 96 +1.66 63 +0.25 94 +0.96
Western Australia 103 +1.76 10th highest = 89 +0.70 = 101 +1.23
Northern Territory 102 +1.65 80 +0.65 98 +1.15

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 112 (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

August rainfall was 39% below average for Australia as a whole. Rainfall was below average for all states and territories, ranging from 87% below average in the Northern Territory to 28% below average in Queensland. Monthly rainfall for Tasmania was equal to average.

Most parts of the mainland south of the tropics had below average rainfall. The rainfall deficits were relatively consistent, with only a few areas, mostly in scattered parts of Western Australia and outback South Australia, having rainfall in the very much below average (lowest 10% of all years) range.

The most significant area outside the tropics to have rainfall above average was the east coast and adjacent ranges between Sydney and Sale. Much of the month's rain in this region fell as a result of a low which moved slowly across the southern Tasman Sea from the 24th onwards. Rainfall in central and northern inland New South Wales was mostly close to average, although this was sufficient to cause renewed minor to moderate flooding in some river catchments which had experienced heavy rain earlier in the winter. Rainfall in Tasmania was mostly close to average, although below average on parts of the east coast.

Rainfall was generally above average in eastern parts of tropical Queensland, including most of the Cape York Peninsula. There were significant rain events at the start of the month in the far north, and in coastal and adjacent inland areas between Townsville and Gladstone on the 31st. Some locations had their wettest August day on record, including 127.4  mm on the 1st at Coconut Island in the Torres Strait, the highest August daily total on record for any Australian site north of 15 °S. Most other parts of the tropics were seasonally dry, although there were local rain events around the Northern Territory Top End on the 25th (including Darwin's wettest August day since 1988) and the Pilbara coast of Western Australia from the 8th to the 10th.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 122)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 23 11.3 −39%
Queensland 67 10.0 −28%
New South Wales 44 26.4 −33%
Victoria 28 53.0 −30%
Tasmania 65 147.8 −0%
South Australia 15 6.9 −61%
Western Australia 14 7.5 −50%
Northern Territory 41 0.5 −87%
Murray-Darling Basin 29 21.9 −44%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 122 (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 August 2021
Hottest day 39.0 °C at Wyndham Airport (WA) on the 31st
Coldest day −2.7 °C at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 24th
Coldest night −9.1 °C at Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on the 2nd
Warmest night 26.5 °C at McCluer Island (NT) on the 1st
Wettest day 127.4 mm at Coconut Island (Qld.) on the 1st


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 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 1:00 pm EDST on Wednesday 1 September 2021. 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.


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