Australia in May 2017

In brief

  • A warmer than average month overall
  • Daytime temperatures very much above average over most of northern Australia
  • Nights cooler than average for some of the west
  • Rainfall below average for most of Australia
  • Above average rain across the base of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for May was 0.71 °C above average. The mean maximum temperature for Australia as a whole was the equal-ninth highest on record for May, at 1.49 °C above average. Queensland and Western Australia both observed their seventh-warmest May (+1.54 °C and +1.56 °C respectively), and the Northern Territory its sixth warmest (+1.96 °C). South Australia and New South Wales also experienced days more than one degree warmer than average for the month as a whole. The national mean minimum temperature was 0.08 °C cooler than average, with most states and the Northern Territory within half a degree of average, but overnight minima for Queensland 1.15 °C warmer than average for May as a whole.

Maximum temperatures were above to very much above average for most of Australia, with May mean maxima in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) for parts of the north and northwest of Western Australia, most of the Northern Territory, most of Queensland more than 250 km inland of the east coast and adjacent areas of inland northern New South Wales, and an area in the central Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Daytime temperatures were near average for most of Tasmania except the coastal north; western and central northern Victoria; inland southern New South Wales; southeastern and central South Australia; the Goldfields and Southeast Coastal districts of Western Australia; and, in Queensland, the tip of Cape York and an area of the northern coast.

Minimum temperatures were warmer than average for most of Queensland, except an area of the central Cape York Peninsula, and in the highest 10% of historical observations for the central west and between Fraser Island and Rockhampton. Nights were also warmer than average for most of the Barkly district and across the base of the Top End in the Northern Territory, northeastern New South Wales, northern and eastern Tasmania, and an area of the Southeast Coastal district of Western Australia.

Minimum temperatures were below average across large parts of Western Australia, predominantly along the coast from the Gascoyne north and across the east of the state, extending into the Goldfields district. Nights were also cooler than average in the southwest of the Northern Territory, the west of South Australia, and in a large area focused on the borders of South Australia and New South Wales/Victoria.

Several cooler periods occurred across the south of Australia during the month, associated with the passage of cold fronts, with the most notable falling in the last week of the month and affecting southern South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales. On the 30th Sydney had its lowest May minimum temperature since 1999, and Hobart its lowest May maximum temperature since 2000.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 108)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia = 99 +1.49 equal 9th highest 62 −0.08 88 +0.71
Queensland 102 +1.54 7th highest 96 +1.15 = 102 +1.35 equal 6th highest
New South Wales 90 +1.10 62 −0.23 = 73 +0.44
Victoria 60 +0.12 = 48 −0.41 53 −0.14
Tasmania 70 +0.09 71 +0.18 68 +0.14
South Australia 85 +1.34 43 −0.41 73 +0.47
Western Australia 102 +1.56 7th highest = 33 −0.60 80 +0.48
Northern Territory 103 +1.96 6th highest = 51 −0.33 = 87 +0.82

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 108 (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 during May was below average for most of Australia, with the national area-average 45% below the long-term mean.

May rainfall was below average for most of Western Australia, with seasonally dry conditions in most of the state's north. In southern Western Australia near-average rainfall was mostly confined to an area of the central south coast. Rainfall for the month was below average for most of the Northern Territory, but May is the first of the dry season months and this is not particularly unusual. Rainfall was also below average for large areas of South Australia in the west, south, and central east, extending into northwestern New South Wales; for much of Victoria away from the west and border country in the central north and far east; and for other scattered pockets in eastern and northern New South Wales, and in inland southern and central northern Queensland.

Rainfall totals for May were above average across the base of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, from the Gulf Country to the tropical and central coasts. Some locations observed record-high monthly totals, largely as a result of heavy rainfall in the region on the 18th and 19th, associated with a surface trough located off north Queensland coast. Numerous locations had their wettest May day on record in that part of Queensland, and also on the following two days in northern Tasmania and southeastern New South Wales. Rainfall was also above average for an area of the Kimberley around Derby, and scattered pockets of the eastern states from southwest Queensland into Victoria, and in eastern Tasmania.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 118)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 26 15.6 −45%
Queensland 77 29.0 −5%
New South Wales 49 27.7 −41%
Victoria 40 42.7 −34%
Tasmania 68 135.0 −2%
South Australia 24 8.0 −62%
Western Australia 13 7.5 −71%
Northern Territory 24 1.0 −93%
Murray-Darling Basin 47 25.8 −39%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 118 (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 May 2017
Hottest day 37.4 °C    at Mandora (WA) on the 8th
Coldest day −1.8 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 29th
Coldest night −8.5 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 3rd
Warmest night 27.2 °C    at McCluer Island (NT) on the 2nd
Wettest day 192.2 mm at Alva Beach (Qld.) on the 19th


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 June 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.


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