Australia in January 2024

In brief

  • The national area-averaged January rainfall total was 47.4% above the 1961–1990 average, the ninth-wettest January on record (since observations began 1900).

  • Rainfall in January was above average for most of Australia.

  • Rainfall was below average for much of Australia's west coast and a few pockets of north-eastern New South Wales.
  • Australia's national area-averaged mean temperature was 1.54 °C above the 1961–1990 average, the third-warmest January on record (since 1910).

  • Australia's area-averaged mean maximum temperature for January was 1.26 °C above the 1961–1990 average. Australia's area-averaged mean minimum temperature was 1.81 °C above average, the third-warmest on record for January (since 1910).

  • Mean maximum temperatures were above average for large parts of the country and below average for parts of north-western Northern Territory, northern Queensland and some areas along the coast of Western Australia.

  • Mean minimum temperatures were above average for most of Australia.

Further information and tables of records for each state and the Northern Territory can be found in the individual regional climate summaries, published on 5 February 2024.

Temperatures

Australia's national area-averaged mean temperature for January was 1.54 °C above the 1961–1990 average, the third-warmest January on record (since observations began in 1910).

For Western Australia it was the fifth-warmest January on record, and for Queensland the eight-warmest on record.

Australia's area-averaged mean maximum temperature for January was 1.26 °C above average. Mean maximum temperatures for January were above average to very much above average (in the highest 10% of all Januarys since 1910) across much of Australia including much of Western Australia, South Australia and large parts of New South Wales, southern Northern Territory and southern Queensland. Heatwave conditions persisted across much of inland Australia throughout the month. Mean maximum temperatures were also above average for Tasmania, most of the Queensland's coast and eastern parts of the Top End in the Northern Territory. January daytime temperatures were the highest on record for an area in the west of Western Australia's Kimberley district.

Mean maximum temperatures were below average for parts of north-western Northern Territory, northern Queensland and some areas along the south and north-west coasts of Western Australia.

The national area-average mean minimum temperature was 1.81 °C above the 1961-1990 average, the third-warmest on record for January (since national observations began in 1910). Mean minimum temperatures were warmer than average across most of Australia. Mean minimum temperatures were very much above average (in the highest 10% of Januarys since 1910) for most of Queensland, the Northern Territory, northern South Australia, most of Tasmania, much of Western Australia and southern Victoria and large parts of northern and eastern New South Wales. Night-time temperatures were the highest on record for parts of the Kimberley, Pilbara and Southern Interior districts of Western Australia, Lasseter district of the Northern Territory, Northern Rivers district of New South Wales and along much of the coastal and adjacent inland areas of Queensland.

Western Australia had its third-warmest January minimum temperature on record, with a state-wide minimum temperature 1.18 °C above the 1961-1990 average. For Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, mean minimum temperature this January was the fourth-warmest on record and for South Australia the equal ninth-warmest on record.

1-month temperature table ending January 2024
Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
  Rank
(of 115)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 115)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 115)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 102 +1.26   113 +1.81 3rd highest (record +2.41 °C in 2019) 113 +1.54 3rd highest (record +2.85 °C in 2019)
Queensland 92 +1.42   112 +2.44 4th highest (record +2.62 °C in 2019) 108 +1.93 8th highest
New South Wales 86 +1.68   103 +2.18   = 99 +1.93  
Victoria 59 +0.02   103 +2.03   = 81 +1.03  
Tasmania 91 +1.17   112 +1.72 4th highest (record +2.30 °C in 2022) 103 +1.45  
South Australia 103 +2.24   = 105 +2.37 equal 9th highest 105 +2.30  
Western Australia 105 +1.34   113 +1.18 3rd highest (record +1.23 °C in 2011) 111 +1.26 5th highest
Northern Territory 72 +0.11   112 +1.51 4th highest (record +2.58 °C in 2019) = 97 +0.81  

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 115 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average.

Rainfall

For Australia as a whole, area-averaged rainfall total in January was 47.4% above the 1961–1990 average, the ninth-wettest January on record (since observations began in 1900).

January rainfall was above average for all states and territories.

January rainfall was above average for most of Australia. It was very much above average (in the highest 10% of Januarys since 1900) for much of Victoria, large parts in the north of the Northern Territory, central and southern New South Wales and southern South Australia, and areas scattered across Western Australia and Queensland. January rainfall was the highest on record for much of the Northern Territory's Gregory district extending into adjacent Daly, Carpentaria and Barkly districts and for Victoria's North Central district. Many stations in these areas had their record highest rainfall total for January (since 1900).

Victoria had it fifth-wettest January on record, with state-wide rainfall more than double the average. For the Northern Territory as a whole, it was the fourth-wettest January on record, at 90.2% above the 1961-1990 average, the wettest January since 1984.

Rainfall was below average in some areas along Australia's west coast and a few small areas in north-eastern New South Wales. January rainfall was very much below average (in the lowest 10% of Januarys since 1900) for parts of the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne and South West districts of Western Australia.

 

Significant weather and records

Thunderstorms in eastern and central Australia

January started with humid and unstable weather in eastern Australia, resulting in thunderstorms and heavy rainfall across eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. The highest daily totals recorded (at a Bureau gauge) to 9 am on the 1st and 2nd were 351.0 mm at Springbrook Road and 252.0 mm at Mt Tamborine (both in Queensland) respectively. Some stations, with at least 20 years of observations, had their highest daily January rainfall on record during this period.

On 4 January, thunderstorms affected mostly New South Wales and central parts of the continent. Severe thunderstorms in north-eastern South Australia generated a wind gust of 137 km/h at Moomba Airport, a record highest daily wind gust for this station for any month. These thunderstorms also delivered heavy rainfall with Moomba Airport recording 63.2 mm in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 5th, its highest daily rainfall record for January (30 years of observations).

Very wet in Victoria

On the 7 and 8 January, a broad band of rain with embedded thunderstorms, associated with a slow-moving low pressure trough which advected tropical moisture across the country, moved across south-eastern Australia impacting parts of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.  Heavy rainfall impacted central Victoria and many stations had their highest daily rainfall on record for January in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 8th, with the highest daily rainfall total of 154.4 mm recorded at Heathcote (148 years of observations). Flood warnings were issued for a number of catchments across Victoria, including Major Flood Warnings for the Campaspe, Goulburn and Yea rivers. On the 7th, severe thunderstorms brought heavy rainfall to Warrnambool and Bendigo, resulting in flash flooding, while Melbourne recorded some locally moderate falls which triggered flash flooding across parts of the city.

Monsoon trough

From 9 January, shower and thunderstorm activity across the tropical north became extensive. A monsoon trough moved through Darwin and parts of the Top End on the 10th and over far north Queensland on the 11th. The Monsoon trough and an embedded tropical low that started to develop south-west of Darwin on the 14th resulted in strong winds and rainfall across the Top End. On the 18th the tropical low brought heavy rain to the Northern Territory's Victoria River region, extending in the following days into the Kimberley (Western Australia). Heavy rainfall from the tropical low and extensive thunderstorm activity due to the monsoon trough, which stretched across the Top End of the Northern Territory to Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, resulted in widespread flooding in parts of northern Australia, the closure of many roads including major highways, the evacuation of some remote communities and an interruption to road and rail supply chains.

On the 24th, a tropical low moved to the Pilbara in Western Australia  and then southwards through the state's interior, bringing extensive rainfall, locally strong winds and flash and riverine flooding along its path. Moisture from the north of Western Australia was advected across the state resulting in areas of clouds and storms with locally heavy rainfall in southern parts of the country.

Heatwave

A widespread low to severe intensity heatwave, with locally extreme conditions in parts of Western Australia's Pilbara, affected large parts of the country between 20 and 26 January. Warm air moved from Western Australia, through central parts of the mainland, towards New South Wales and southern Queensland. Large parts of New South Wales, north-eastern South Australia and south-western Queensland had maximum temperatures above 40 °C and many stations had temperatures above 45 °C. On the 25th, Birdsville Airport (Queensland) had 49.4 °C and Maree Aero (South Australia) had 48.5 °C. On the 26th, a number of sites in northern and eastern New South Wales had daytime temperatures above 40.0 °C, including Sydney Airport (40.6 °C) and Williamtown (42.4 °C). A Fire Weather Warning for Extreme Fire Danger was issued for the Greater Huner district (New South Wales), as high temperatures combined with strong and dry northerly winds ahead of the cold front. Heatwave Warnings were issued on many days for parts of Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Kirrily

Tropical Cyclone Kirrily formed on 24 January from a tropical low in the Coral Sea. It intensified and reached Severe Tropical Cyclone strength (Category 3) on the 25th, while moving south-west towards the Queensland coast. Tropical Cyclone Kirrily crossed the north Queensland coast as a Category 2 system around 11 pm AEDT on the 25th just north of Townsville, with gale force winds that were felt from Innisfail to Bowen and extended west to Charter Towers. More than 60,000 customers, mostly in the Townsville region, were left without power due to damaging winds. After landfall, it continued moving south-west towards Queensland's interior, quickly weakened and was downgraded to a tropical low early on the 26th.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily brought daily rainfall totals of 50 to 100 mm (in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 26th) to an area of Townsville, with locally higher totals of more than 100 mm and the highest total of 169.0 mm at Mt Garnet Alert. The highest rainfall totals to 9 am on the 27th were recorded in central to western Queensland, with totals generally up to 100 mm.

In the days that followed, ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily stalled over western Queensland bringing heavy rain and flooding. Its moisture interacted with low pressure troughs stretching across the state, resulting in severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall through central and south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.

Record high daily minimum temperatures in Queensland

Moisture from the ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily was advected over much of Queensland, resulting in high dew point temperatures. This contributed to high daily minimum temperatures with many stations in south-eastern Queensland reporting night-time temperatures in excess of 26 °C.

On the 25th, Birdsville Airport had 49.4 °C, an annual highest daily maximum temperature record for this station, and the second-highest ever observed in Queensland (0.1 °C behind 49.5 °C at Birdsville Police Station on 24 December 1972). Following this, to 9 am on the 26th, Birdsville Airport had a night-time temperature of 36.4 °C, the station's annual highest daily minimum temperature record, an annual daily minimum temperature record for Queensland and second-highest daily minimum temperature for Australia (0.2 °C behind 36.6 °C observed at Borrona Downs in New South Wales on 26 January 2019). 

Some stations had their highest January daily minimum temperature record, while several stations had their annual record, notably at stations with more than 50 years of observations: Mitchell Post Office (31.1 °C on the 27th), Gympie (27.2 °C on the 28th) and Rockhampton Aero (27.8 °C on the 29th).

Severe thunderstorms in Queensland

Moisture from ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily also interacted with low pressure troughs over parts of Queensland and New South Wales resulting in severe thunderstorms that delivered heavy rainfall. On the 29th, thunderstorms developed over a broad area of south-eastern Queensland, with the heaviest rainfall north and west of Brisbane. The highest rainfall totals in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 30th were recorded at Highvale and Wamuran, 201.6 mm and 177.7 mm respectively. However, some non-Bureau rain gauges recorded daily rainfall totals of up to 350.0 mm on the same day. Heavy rainfall led to significant areas of flash flooding and inundation of many households, while some rivers and streams in the area quickly reached major flood levels, with major flooding at Laidley Creek in Lockyer Valley and Major Flood Warnings issued for Condamine and Moonie rivers. On the following day, the area with thunderstorms and heavy rain gradually moved northwards through the Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay and Brunett, Capricornia, Central Coast and Central Highlands, with the highest daily rainfall totals of 169.4 mm and 107.4 mm in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 31st recorded at Caloundra Airport and Sunshine Coast Airport respectively.

 

 

1-month rainfall table ending January 2024
Area-average rainfall
  Rank
(of 125)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 117 118.3 +47% 9th highest
Queensland 105 171.7 +36%  
New South Wales 105 85.8 +28%  
Victoria 121 88.6 +124% 5th highest; highest since 2011
Tasmania 85 90.9 +21%  
South Australia 108 31.4 +44%  
Western Australia 86 69.7 +21%  
Northern Territory 122 232.8 +90% 4th highest (record 326.7 mm in 1974)
Murray-Darling Basin 117 90.0 +60% 9th highest; highest since 1996

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 125 (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.

Australian weather extremes during January 2024
Hottest day 49.4°C Birdsville Airport (Qld.) on the 25th
Coldest day 5.2°C Kunanyi (Mount Wellington Pinnacle) (Tas.) on the 22nd
Coldest night -2.8°C Liawenee (Tas.) on the 30th
Warmest night 36.4°C Birdsville Airport (Qld.) on the 26th
Wettest day 373.0 mm Lowanna (Lowanna Road) (NSW) on the 16th

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