Australia in November 2021

In brief

  • November rainfall was 124% above average for Australia as a whole
  • Nationally November the wettest in 122 years of record, surpassing the record set in November 1973
  • Wettest November on record for New South Wales and South Australia, amongst the ten wettest for Queensland and Western Australia
  • Large areas of mainland Australia received very much above average November (decile 10) rainfall; flooding occurred in numerous rivers in New South Wales and Queensland
  • Rainfall was below average for western Tasmania, far south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia, and south-west Western Australia
  • Mean maximum temperatures for November were warmer than average around the northern coastline of Australia, but cooler or very much cooler than average for most of the mainland
  • Mean minimum temperatures for November were warmer than average for the eastern seaboard of the mainland and for the Top End; cooler than average for the remainder of the Northern Territory, northern South Australia, and northern Western Australia away from the northern coastline
  • Overall, coolest November since 1999 for Australian national mean temperature

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for November was 0.63 °C cooler than the 1961–1990 average for Australia as a whole, and the coolest November this century. The mean maximum temperature for November was 1.22 °C cooler than average and the mean minimum temperature was 0.06 °C cooler than average.

Mean maximum temperatures for November were warmer than average around the northern coastline of Australia, but cooler or very much cooler than average for most of the mainland. The November mean maximum temperature was amongst the ten coolest on record for the New South Wales and South Australia. Mean maximum temperatures for November were close to average for Tasmania, the south-east of South Australia and far south-west Victoria, and the west coast of Western Australia. The mean maximum temperature for the month was the highest on record for November for some stations around the northern coast, particularly around the Top End, though mostly at stations with less than 30 years of observations.

Mean minimum temperatures for November were warmer than average for the eastern seaboard of the mainland and for the Top End. Mean minimum temperatures for November were cooler than average for the remainder of the Northern Territory, northern South Australia, and most of the northern half of Western Australia away from the northern coastline, extending to the Gascoyne coast. Elsewhere, overnight temperatures were mostly close to average. 

A cool period from the 9th saw daytime temperatures more than 10 degrees lower than average covering broad areas, initially in south-west Western Australia, spreading as the system tracked eastward to cover most of Central Australia and the western half of the mainland eastern states by the 12th. While anomalies became less extreme, the cool period persisted in the south-eastern mainland through the 16th. Both daytime and night-time temperatures approached record lows for November during this event.

Several centimetres of snow fell across the Victorian Alps and down to 200 m in southern Tasmania on the 15th. A daily maximum temperature of −2.1 °C was observed at kunyani (Mount Wellington Pinnacle) for the 24 hours from 9am on 15 November, a record low daily maximum temperature for Tasmania in November, and also the lowest maximum temperature in Tasmania this spring.

Heatwave conditions affected parts of the coast of the Top End between the 16th and 19th, with daytime temperatures approaching records.

Heat built along the west coast late in the month, and also in the Kimberley, with daytime temperatures above 40 °C around Broome on the 24th, and a fire starting in the Roebuck area on the 26th. south, daytime temperatures were 8 to 12 degrees warmer than average along parts of the west coast between the 24th and 28th.

Further discussion and tables of records for each state and the Northern Territory can be found in the individual regional climate summaries, which will be published on December 3rd.

1-month temperature table ending November 2021
Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
  Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 17 −1.22   = 54 −0.06   27 −0.63  
Queensland 28 −0.77   99 +1.08   = 63 +0.16  
New South Wales 10 −2.05 10th lowest; lowest since 1999 80 +1.03   37 −0.50  
Victoria 28 −1.01   79 +0.50   47 −0.25  
Tasmania = 68 +0.30   46 −0.57   = 59 −0.12  
South Australia 9 −2.41 9th lowest; lowest since 1999 60 −0.02   24 −1.21  
Western Australia 25 −0.83   20 −0.89   23 −0.85  
Northern Territory = 22 −1.25   30 −0.75   = 24 −0.99  

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 112 (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

November rainfall was 124% above average for Australia as a whole, making it the wettest November on record, surpassing the previous record set in November 1973.

Rainfall was above or very much above average for most of mainland Australia. It was the wettest November on record for New South Wales and South Australia, amongst the ten wettest for Queensland and Western Australia. Large areas of South Australia and adjacent border areas of Western Australia and the south-west Northern Territory, and areas of eastern to central New South Wales and eastern Queensland had their wettest November on record.

Numerous sites in New South Wales and Queensland had record high November total rainfall, including Bathurst, Narrabri, Wagga Wagga, Orange, and Gunnedah in New South Wales, and Maryborough, Byfield, Bundaberg, and Applethorpe in Queensland. Further discussion and tables of records for each state and the Northern Territory can be found in the individual regional climate summaries, which will be published on December 3rd.

Rainfall was below average for western Tasmania, far south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia, and south-west Western Australia.

These areas of below average rainfall correspond to west-facing coastlines, which corresponds to the typical effect of a positive Southern Annular Mode (SAM) during late spring. A positive SAM during late spring typically brings wetter weather to eastern parts of Australia, but typically has a drying influence on south-westerly exposed coasts such as western Tasmania. In eastern Australia it typically results in increased rainfall, as a result of increased onshore flow. La Niña became established in the tropical Pacific during November, having developed over spring. It is likely the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) also contributed to the very wet second half of November in eastern Australia, with activity over the eastern Maritime Continent in mid-November leading to tropical moisture building in the region and subsequently being drawn across Australia.

Thunderstorms were a frequent occurrence across the south-east and Queensland during the month, as were periods of heavy rainfall; both contributing to areas of flash flooding and riverine flooding.

At St Arnaud, in Victoria's Wimmera, a storm cell dumped two month's average rainfall in just a couple of hours on 4 November, resulting in significant flooding and evacuations.

Heavy rain and hail resulted in damaged crops and in flooding in South Australia's Riverland on 6 November, while storms in Melbourne brought heavy rainfall to northern and eastern suburbs, and caused flash flooding in some south-eastern suburbs.

On 9 November storms brought record-high November daily rainfall totals to a few locations in Central Queensland damage was caused to the North Coast rail line north of Rockhampton, and Alice Springs Airport, in the southern Northern Territory, recorded its wettest November day on record with the Todd River bursting its banks. Flooding occurred across large areas of inland New South Wales and large areas of Queensland from the 11th, before renewed rainfall from the 21st to the end of the month.

A Special Climate Statement will be produced discussing the November flooding and rainfall records, it is likely to be released in the next week or two.

Tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclone Paddy formed on the morning of 22 November, near Christmas Island, well to the west of Australia. This was the first tropical cyclone of the 2021–22 season. It is typical for the first tropical cyclone of the season to form just in mid- to late November in La Niña years. Paddy was downgraded to a tropical low on the morning of 24 November and had no direct impacts on Christmas Island, Cocos and Keeling Islands, or mainland Western Australia.

1-month rainfall table ending November 2021
Area-average rainfall
  Rank
(of 122)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 122 72.6 +124% highest (was 70.1 mm in 1973)
Queensland 116 107.6 +136% 7th highest; highest since 2010
New South Wales 122 132.0 +195% highest (was 120.2 mm in 1917)
Victoria 105 77.9 +50%  
Tasmania 32 76.7 −24%  
South Australia 122 59.2 +288% highest (was 56.9 mm in 1920)
Western Australia 114 34.2 +92% 9th highest
Northern Territory 112 71.6 +75%  
Murray-Darling Basin 122 121.1 +201% highest (was 108.4 mm in 1924)

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 122 (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 November 2021
Hottest day 44.2 °C Rabbit Flat (NT) on the 21st
Coldest day −2.1 °C Kunanyi (Mount Wellington Pinnacle) (Tas.) on the 15th
Coldest night −6.5 °C Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 16th
Warmest night 30.7 °C Argyle Aerodrome (WA) on the 23nd
Wettest day 340.8 mm Samuel Hill Aero (Qld.) on the 10th

Climate