Australia in January 2017

In brief

  • Very warm month for New South Wales and southern Queensland, record warm in parts of the east
  • Cool days for much of northwestern Australia
  • Rainfall very much above average for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia
  • Australia's 8th-wettest January for the nation as a whole


The national mean temperature for January was 0.77 °C above average. Mean maximum temperatures were 0.25 °C above average while mean minima were the third-highest on record for January at 1.29 °C above average.

It was an exceptionally warm month for New South Wales, especially the east, with the statewide mean maximum and minimum temperature fourth-highest on record for January and the mean temperature third-highest. It was also exceptionally warm in adjacent parts of southern Queensland (with the statewide mean minimum temperature second-highest on record for January, and mean temperature sixth-highest) and in northeastern South Australia. Meanwhile, daytime temperatures were cooler than average for the northwest of Australia.

Maximum temperatures were in the highest 10% of historical records (decile 10) for nearly all of New South Wales, southern Queensland, and adjacent parts of northeastern South Australia. Maxima were also warmer than average surrounding this area and for nearly all of Victoria, all but western South Australia, eastern Tasmania, southern Western Australia and areas of the western Gascoyne, and the east of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Several stations in northern and eastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland, including the Sydney metropolitan region, broke records for runs of consecutive warm days or nights, or for the total numbers of hot days or warm nights during the month. The extremely warm conditions have persisted since late December and are forecast to continue into February.

Daytime temperatures were cooler to very much cooler (lowest 10% of historical observations) for northern and eastern Western Australia, most of the Northern Territory except the Top End and far southeast, and for most of the Gulf Country in Queensland. This was associated with heavy rainfall during the month for much of this area.

Minimum temperatures were warmer than average for the eastern States, South Australia, most of the Northern Territory, and areas of Western Australia adjacent to the South Australian border, along the northwestern coastal fringe, and in the western Pilbara and an area spanning part of the Gascoyne and Goldfields districts. Minima were in the highest 10% of historical records (decile 10) for most of New South Wales except the inland south, the southern half of Queensland, extending through the Northern Goldfields district to parts of the Peninsula, and large parts of northeastern and southwestern South Australia. Minima were highest on record for a large area of southern Queensland and northeastern and central coast New South Wales.

Only small areas of Western Australia, in the far southwest and around the northern Interior District, observed cooler than average minima for the month.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 108)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Comment Rank
(of 108)
Australia = 69 +0.25 106 +1.29 3rd highest (record +1.80 °C in 2006) 92 +0.77
Queensland 83 +1.15 107 +1.98 2nd highest (record +2.25 °C in 2006) 103 +1.57 6th highest
New South Wales 106 +3.67 3rd highest (record +4.56 °C in 1939) 105 +3.00 4th highest (record +3.74 °C in 2006) 106 +3.34 3rd highest (record +3.98 °C in 1939)
Victoria 87 +1.75 82 +1.18 87 +1.46
Tasmania 68 +0.31 = 95 +0.87 81 +0.59
South Australia 85 +1.27 101 +2.34 8th highest 95 +1.81
Western Australia 20 −0.93 76 +0.18 42 −0.37
Northern Territory 20 −1.85 = 89 +0.68 36 −0.58

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
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


It was Australia's eighth-wettest January on record for the nation as a whole. January rainfall was above to very much above average for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia; large areas of the east of Western Australia, South Australia away from the eastern border, and the western to central Northern Territory observed monthly rainfall totals in the highest 10% of historical observations (decile 10). Area-averaged January rainfall was the third-highest on record for Western Australia, the eighth-highest on record for the Northern Territory, the ninth-highest on record for South Australia.

Monthly rainfall was also above average for western Queensland and areas in a band across the south of the Cape York Peninsula, and for western Victoria and an adjacent are of southwestern New South Wales.

Minor flooding affected areas of the Kimberley, where multiple stations in the northeast set January monthly rainfall records with totals of 500 mm to 730 mm. El Questro set a record for any month of the year, with 751.4 mm. Stations also set monthly records in parts of the western Northern Territory, scattered across Western Australia, and in a cluster around the coast of eastern to central South Australia. Late January brought a significant rainfall event to the northern and central parts of the South West Land Division in Western Australia, including areas near Perth. January is typically a dry month for the south of Western Australia and South Australia, so while totals in these areas were lower than in the north they remain notable.

January rainfall was below average along east of the Great Dividing Range in southeastern Australia (extending from areas north of Melbourne and across Gippsland in Victoria, through eastern New South Wales to the Hunter), continuing a pattern seen in recent months and exacerbating the effect of warm weather in coastal New South Wales. Monthly rainfall was also below in scattered areas of southeast Queensland, pockets of central and northern New South Wales, and for locations in the far southwest of Western Australia.

Area-average rainfall
(of 118)
from mean
Australia 111 125.3 +57% 8th highest
Queensland 81 140.3 +11%
New South Wales 40 38.3 −42%
Victoria 64 36.5 −8%
Tasmania 49 70.9 −7%
South Australia 110 50.7 +107% 9th highest
Western Australia 116 130.0 +129% 3rd highest (record 145.4 mm in 2006)
Northern Territory 111 224.8 +87% 8th highest
Murray-Darling Basin 57 38.3 −31%

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
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles

Australian weather extremes during January 2017
Hottest day 46.9 °C    at Wanaaring Post Office (NSW) on the 13th
Coldest day 6.5 °C    at Mount Read (Tas.) on the 15th
Coldest night −2.7 °C    at Liawenee (Tas.) on the 19th
Warmest night 33.5 °C    at Birdsville Airport (Qld) on the 20th
Wettest day 351.0 mm at Tung Oil Alert (Qld.) on the 9th


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 February 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

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