Australia in February 2017

In brief

  • Very warm month for New South Wales and Queensland
  • Record warm in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales
  • Cool days for much of Western Australia, the base of the Top End, and Tasmania
  • Nights cool for Tasmania and parts of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley
  • Below average rainfall for New South Wales, Queensland, northeastern South Australia, and much of Tasmania
  • Above average rainfall for Western Australia, the north of the Northern Territory, Queensland's Gulf coast, and much of southern South Australia
  • Heavy rainfall and flooding in southwest Western Australia early in the month

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for February was 0.33 °C above average. The national mean maximum temperature was 0.46 °C above average and mean minimum temperature was 0.20 °C above average.

Exceptional warmth in New South Wales and southern Queensland persisted from January into February. Summer 2016–17 saw prolonged and, at times, extreme heat over New South Wales, southern Queensland, South Australia and parts of northern Victoria. The highest temperatures of the period were recorded during 9–12 February; the highest maximum became the equal-warmest February day on record for South Australia (48.2 °C at Tarcoola Aero on the 9th) and the highest minimum became the warmest night on record for New South Wales for any month of the year (34.2 °C at White Cliffs AWS on the 11th). A number of significant fires also occurred in New South Wales during this period. A Special Climate Statement discusses the warmth and records set.

For New South Wales as a whole the statewide mean maximum temperature was the third highest on record for February. In Queensland the statewide mean maximum temperature was the fifth highest on record for February and the minimum temperature was the third highest on record.

Conversely, Tasmania experienced both cooler than average maxima and minima for the month.

Daytime temperatures were below average for most of Western Australia and across the base of the Top End in the Northern Territory, extending along the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland. Days were also cooler than average for Tasmania. Maxima were in the lowest 10% of historical observations (decile 1) for the southwest of Western Australia and around the western coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, associated with very much above average rainfall in these areas.

Maximum temperatures were above average for nearly all of New South Wales and for Queensland south of a line roughly from Cairns to Mount Isa, the southeast of the Northern Territory and northeastern South Australia. Maxima were highest on record for southeast Queensland and some adjacent parts of northern New South Wales.

Minimum temperatures were warmer than average for the most of Queensland and northern and eastern New South Wales, and in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10) for much of northern and eastern New South Wales and much of Queensland except the west and north. An area of the coastal Gascoyne in Western Australia also observed warmer than average minima. Overnight temperatures were cooler than average for much of the Kimberley in Western Australia, the central Pilbara, an area of inland southeast Western Australia, large areas of the Northern Territory, and nearly all of Tasmania.


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 83 +0.46 = 72 +0.20 82 +0.33
Queensland 104 +2.26 5th highest; highest since 2006 106 +1.32 3rd highest (record +1.73 °C in 2006) 104 +1.79 5th highest; highest since 2006
New South Wales 106 +2.99 3rd highest (record +3.80 °C in 1926) 94 +1.31 104 +2.15 5th highest; highest since 2004
Victoria 60 −0.12 48 −0.46 54 −0.28
Tasmania 16 −1.62 = 24 −1.11 18 −1.36
South Australia 78 +0.87 63 +0.10 75 +0.49
Western Australia 22 −1.29 = 41 −0.42 26 −0.84
Northern Territory 49 −0.27 31 −0.51 47 −0.38

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

Nationally, rainfall for Australia during February was near average. However, this disguises a marked difference between east and west. February rainfall was above to very much above average for an area extending from northwest Victoria across the Murraylands and Adelaide region, across the eastern Eyre Peninsula and west coast of South Australia, covering nearly all of Western Australia, most of the north of the Northern Territory and along the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland. Areas around the south and west of the Gulf, parts of the Kimberley, and between the western Pilbara and the southern coast of Western Australia observed monthly rainfall in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10).

February is typically a low-rainfall month for southwest Western Australia, however, during 2017 an active monsoon trough and several tropical lows over the north of the State contributed to persistent and at times very heavy rainfall in late January and early February. A Special Climate Statement has been produced for the heavy rainfall and flooding in southwest Western Australia. There were at least two drowning deaths in the southwest and several other vehicles washed into floodwaters during the first week of the month, with extensive damage to infrastructure also occurring. For the 24 hours to 9 am on the 10th Perth Metro recorded 114.4 mm, its second highest daily rainfall for any month of the year, using a combined station history extending back to 1876.

In the north, tropical cyclone Alfred brought very heavy rainfall to areas surrounding the Gulf of Carpentaria following mid-month, causing damaging winds and some flooding. There were evacuations in the township of Borroloola. The number of tropical cyclones has been very low for the season so far, although there have been multiple significant tropical lows, the category immediately below cyclone strength. Heavy rainfall during the month also led to flooding in the Katherine River and other areas of the outback.

February rainfall was below average across much of Queensland, particularly south of a line between Boulia and Townsville, across most of New South Wales except the southeast, across northeastern South Australia, and also across much of Tasmania away from the west of the State. Despite below average monthly rainfall, a few storms did bring very heavy rainfall to parts of the east of Australia at times, with flash flooding in Sydney on the 7th and in Victoria on the 5th, affecting Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.

Rainfall has been been below average in parts of the southern east coast of Queensland and, to a lesser extent, parts of east coast New South Wales for a number of months, seeing a re-emergence of significant rainfall deficiencies. These will be discussed in the forthcoming Drought Statement, to be released within the next week.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 118)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 68 80.6 +6%
Queensland 24 72.9 −37%
New South Wales 17 20.2 −60%
Victoria 60 31.7 −1%
Tasmania 32 46.9 −29%
South Australia 63 14.4 −26%
Western Australia 107 105.3 +74%
Northern Territory 83 141.1 +17%
Murray-Darling Basin = 15 16.9 −58%

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 February 2017
Hottest day 48.2 °C    at Tarcoola Aero (SA) on the 9th
Coldest day 3.2 °C    at kunanyi (Mount Wellington Pinacle) (Tas.) on the 13th
Coldest night −2.7 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 20th
Warmest night 34.2 °C    at White Cliffs AWS (NSW) on the 11th
Wettest day 290.0 mm at Shoal Bay (NT) on the 5th


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 Wednesday 1 March 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries