Australia in December 2016

In brief

  • Both days and nights warmer than average across much of eastern Australia
  • Cooler than average days across the northwest and the Northern Territory, away from the Top End
  • Cooler than average nights across the southwest
  • Drier than average across much of the eastern seaboard, north of Newcastle
  • Wetter than average for most of the southwest, Northern Territory, South Australia and eastern Western Australia


The national mean temperature for December was 0.71 °C above average. Mean maximum temperatures were 0.46 °C above average while mean minima were +0.96 °C.

Maximum temperatures were above average across most of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, south and eastern Tasmania, southern Queensland and most of Cape York Peninsula. Temperatures were in the warmest decile (top 10% of records) across parts of Cape York Peninsula, southern Queensland and northern New South Wales and along coastal eastern Australia between Melbourne and northern New South Wales. Smaller regions in the warmest decile occurred throughout southern South Australia. High rainfall totals across northwest and Central Australia contributed to below average day time temperatures in these regions. Elsewhere, near average temperatures were recorded.

Minima were above average throughout most of eastern Australia, northeast and southeast Northern Territory, northeast and southwest South Australia and an area extending between southeast and northwest Western Australia. Temperatures were in the warmest decile (top 10% of records) across large parts of these regions, with the exception of Tasmania. Smaller areas of highest on record were recorded along coastal eastern New South Wales between the Australian Capital Territory and Sydney and in parts of Central Australia and the northwest coast of Weastern Australia. Below average overnight temperatures were recorded in southwest Australia and in small areas of Central Australia.

Above average mean temperatures were recorded across most of eastern Australia and an area extending from southern South Australia through to northwest Western Australia. Similar to minimum temperatures, temperatures were in the warmest decile (top 10% of records) across large parts of these regions, with the exception of Tasmania. Below average temperatures were recorded across much of northeast Western Australia and central Northern Territory, along with parts of southwest Western Australia.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Australia = 82 +0.46 101 +0.96 7th highest 93 +0.71
Queensland = 89 +1.15 101 +1.44 7th highest 102 +1.30 6th highest; highest since 2005
New South Wales 101 +2.37 7th highest; highest since 2005 105 +2.04 3rd highest (record +2.55 °C in 1914) 106 +2.21 2nd highest (record +2.43 °C in 1990)
Victoria = 96 +1.75 92 +1.08 95 +1.42
Tasmania 89 +1.21 82 +0.53 = 85 +0.87
South Australia = 78 +1.04 102 +1.55 6th highest 96 +1.30
Western Australia = 57 −0.15 71 +0.16 = 64 +0.00
Northern Territory 29 −1.16 94 +0.73 = 54 −0.20

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 107 (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


The Australian total rainfall for December was the 5th wettest on record (76% above average). For the States and Territories as a whole, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all recorded area-average rainfall totals of more than twice their respective monthly mean, whereas below average State-based totals were recorded in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Rainfall for Tasmania was close to average.

Regionally, December rainfall was below average across much of southern Victoria, the eastern seaboard north of Newcastle, and for small areas in the west of Western Australia. Parts of north and southeast Queensland recorded rainfall in the lowest decile (bottom 10% of records). Above average rainfall was recorded over most of Central Australia, extending from northwest Western Australia and over much of the Northern Territory and almost all of South Australia, as well as in parts of southwest Australia. Within much of this region (and extending across one-third of Australia), rainfall was in the wettest decile (top 10% of records for December). Highest on record rainfall was recorded across parts of the Kimberley and Central Australia.

The high rainfall totals across Australia resulted from a number of low pressure systems. Ex-tropical cyclone Yvette crossed the Australian coast near Broome on the 25th. The system was associated with areas of heavy rainfall over the Kimberley before landfall, assisted by another tropical low closer to Darwin, which resulted in minor to moderate flooding in some areas. This low pressure complex then tracked into Central Australia resulting in severe flash flooding around Uluru. Storms continued as the system tracked from South Australia to Bass Strait, before being overtaken by a strong low and associated cold front moving southeastward from the Great Australian Bight during the 28th and 29th.

Area-average rainfall
(of 117)
from mean
Australia 113 91.8 +76% 5th highest
Queensland 44 63.9 −23%
New South Wales 61 48.7 −9%
Victoria 54 39.0 −18%
Tasmania 70 108.2 +4%
South Australia 117 68.0 +271% highest (was 66.0 mm in 1988)
Western Australia 115 83.3 +162% 3rd highest (record 105.6 mm in 1930)
Northern Territory 115 197.6 +166% 3rd highest (record 230.0 mm in 2015)
Murray-Darling Basin 60 45.0 −7%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 117 (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 December 2016
Hottest day 46.9 °C  at Birdsville Airport (Qld) on the 2nd
Coldest day 4.0 °C  at Mount Read (Tas) on the 14th
Coldest night −3.7 °C  at Mount Hotham (Vic) on the 18th
Warmest night 32.5 °C  at Cygnet Bay (WA) on the 18th
Wettest day 231.6 mm at Walungurru Airport (NT) on the 26th


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 8 am EST on Thursday 5 January 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 October 2009; the main effect was that current and historical values for Tasmania were increased. Since October 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

(03) 9669 4057