Australia in May 2022

In brief

  • May rainfall was 40% above average for Australia as a whole
  • Rainfall for May was above average for most of Queensland and New South Wales, the Pilbara and northern Interior district in Western Australia, and south-east Tasmania
  • Rainfall was below average for much of Victoria, an area of Western Australia between the Central West and Goldfields, and parts of the Top End, central Northern Territory and Kimberley in Western Australia
  • Australia's national area-averaged mean temperature was 1.02 °C above average for May; the national mean minimum temperature was the 8th-warmest on record, while the national mean maximum temperature was also above average
  • Mean maximum temperatures were highest on record for May for some parts of the Northern Territory's Top End, and for parts of the north-west Kimberley, and warmer or very much warmer than average for much of northern Australia and parts of Queensland's east coast, southern Western Australia, and western and northern Tasmania
  • Mean maximum temperatures for May were cooler than average for part of the coastal Pilbara and central inland Western Australia, and a large area of inland central to eastern Australia
  • Mean minimum temperatures for May were warmer or very much warmer than average for much of Australia and highest on record for May in an area of Queensland from the Central Highlands to the south-east, and north-east New South Wales

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for May was 1.02 °C warmer than the 1961–1990 average for Australia as a whole. For Queensland the mean temperature was the 7th-highest on record for May, and for Western Australia the mean temperature was the 10th-highest on record for May.

The national mean maximum temperature for May was 0.49 °C warmer than average.

The national mean minimum temperature for May 1.55 °C warmer than average, the 8th-highest on record for Australia as a whole. Queensland observed its 2nd-highest mean maximum temperature on record for May, and New South Wales its 10th-highest.

Mean maximum temperatures for May were warmer or very much warmer than average for much of northern Australia and parts of Queensland's east coast from the tropics to the Wide Bay and Burnett region; southern Western Australia; and western and northern Tasmania. Mean maximum temperatures were highest on record for May for some central and eastern parts of the Northern Territory's Top End, and for parts of the north-west Kimberley. Some stations around the coast of the Top End, and a few elsewhere in far northern Australia, had their highest mean maximum temperature on record for May.

Mean maximum temperatures for May were cooler than average for part of the coastal Pilbara and central inland Western Australia, and a large area of inland central to eastern Australia covering much of Pastoral South Australia, western and inland southern Queensland, and western to central New South Wales.

Mean minimum temperatures for May were warmer or very much warmer than average for much of Australia, and highest on record for May in an area of Queensland from the Central Highlands to the south-east, and far north-east New South Wales. A large number of stations across the eastern half of Queensland, north-eastern New South Wales, and three in the Illawarra region in New South Wales had their highest mean minimum temperature on record for May.

Mean minimum temperatures for May were close to average for much of southern Victoria, an area of west coast Tasmania, much of South Australia, much of the South West Land Division and south coast in Western Australia, and pockets of the eastern Top End in the Northern Territory and north-eastern Kimberley in Western Australia. Below average minima were observed in an area of southern South Australia stretching from the west coast to the Eyre Peninsula. 

On the 3rd, arm north-westerly winds ahead of a cold front led to a few stations, with less than 30 years of data, in north-east Tasmania observing record-high daily minimum temperatures for May.

A few stations in coastal Queensland to coastal north-eastern New South Wales observed record-high daily minimum temperatures for May between the 10th and 13th associated with a period of high rainfall, but mostly at stations with less than 30 years of record. Between the 14th and 16th several stations in eastern New South Wales and a few in Victoria also observed a record-high May daily minimum temperature.

At the end of the month a trough and associated cloudband stretched from the coastal Pilbara to the western Kimberley, extending from low pressure centres offshore to the north-west of Australia. This brought a surge of cool air into Western Australia, with large areas of inland north-west Western Australia experiencing daily maximum temperatures more than 12 degrees cooler than average on the 30th and 31st, with some stations observing record-low daily maximum temperatures for May.

In the south-east of the country a deep low pressure system and associated cold front tracked over land near south-east South Australia and moved into the south-east, bringing cold air and "speckled" cloud in a strong south-westerly airstream behind the front. Some stations in south-eastern New South Wales and Victoria observed record-low daily maximum temperatures for May, and snow was reported settling to relatively low locations across parts of the south-east. In the Alpine region, the system brought some welcome dumps of snow ahead of the official opening of the snow season on 11 June.

Further discussion and tables of records for each state and the Northern Territory can be found in the individual regional climate summaries, to be released on Friday 3 June 2022.

 

1-month temperature table ending May 2022
Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
  Rank
(of 113)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 113)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 113)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia = 73 +0.49   106 +1.55 8th highest 99 +1.02  
Queensland = 60 +0.11   112 +2.92 2nd highest (record +3.27 °C in 2016) 107 +1.52 7th highest
New South Wales 39 −0.31   104 +1.61 10th highest 84 +0.65  
Victoria 50 −0.08   89 +0.53   = 77 +0.23  
Tasmania 84 +0.32   69 +0.01   79 +0.17  
South Australia 47 −0.30   67 −0.01   56 −0.15  
Western Australia 86 +0.92   103 +1.34   104 +1.13 10th highest
Northern Territory 96 +1.40   98 +1.51   102 +1.46  

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 113 (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

May rainfall was 40% above the 1961–1990 average for Australia as a whole.

Rainfall was below average for much of Victoria away from the north-west; an area of Western Australia between the Central West and Goldfields; and parts of the Top End, central Northern Territory and Kimberley in Western Australia.

Rainfall for May was above average for most of Queensland and New South Wales, excluding parts of the southern border regions of New South Wales, and along the coast from the south to the Hunter where rainfall was close to average. For Queensland as a whole area-average rainfall was the 5th-highest on record for May (compared to all years since 1900). 

Rainfall was also above average for far north-west Victoria; pockets of South Australia about the eastern border, south coast, and central north; and in south-east Tasmania. In Western Australia rainfall was above average extending from the Pilbara coast and northern Gascoyne to the south-western corner of the Northern Territory.

A number of stations along the east coast of Queensland observed their highest total rainfall on record for May, as did a number of stations on the Pilbara coast, and a few stations in south-east Tasmania.

A cold front and low pressure system crossed Tasmania early in the month, with a low pressure trough off the east coast of Tasmania intensifying into a low pressure system by the 6th. Thunderstorms with heavy rain and strong winds affected south-eastern Tasmania, with gusts over 100 km/h at several locations, and some stations, mostly in the south-east, observing daily rainfall records for May in the 24 hours to 9am on the 6th. Flash flooding was also reported, around 2,800 properties lost power, and the State Emergency Service reported just under 100 calls for assistance.

Daily rainfall records were observed across much of the eastern half of Queensland, northern Queensland, parts of New South Wales between the 10th and 14th. Multi-day totals to the 15th were two to eight times the average monthly total for large parts of Queensland (areas of 150 mm to 300 mm totals were common). Heavy rain fell across large areas of Queensland, particularly in the east, with flooding affecting parts of Queensland from the coastal northern tropics, to areas of the Central West, and south-east Queensland. The heavy rain over eastern Australia was the result of persistent onshore flow feeding into an extensive low pressure trough, as a low pressure centre developed on a trough offshore near Fraser Island by the 14th.

A cold front and associated low pressure system brought storms and wind gusts in excess of 100 km/h to south-west Western Australia from the 22nd with:

  • large accumulations of small hailstones reported in Kulin
  • heavy rain, thunder and lightning across the Perth metropolitan area on the morning of the 23rd, and severe storm warnings from Geraldton in the north, through to the south coast and east to the Goldfields
  • a tornado reported at Beenong, 300 km south-east of Perth on the 23rd
  • and rough seas, with dangerous winds and thunderstorm warnings and a 5 metre swell off Jurien Bay on the 24th.

In the last days of the month a middle and upper level cloudband with embedded thunderstorms formed across northern Western Australia, stretching from off the Pilbara coast to the interior of the continent. This cloud was associated with moist tropical flow into a surface trough emanating from a low near Christmas Island, with a weak tropical low developing offshore from the Pilbara coast. Heavy rain in the Pilbara, including some daily rainfall records for May, caused flash flooding and closed the Northwest Coastal Highway for the second time during May. For the month as a whole, it was the wettest May on record (since 1900) along parts of the Pilbara coast.

A vigorous cold front crossed south-west Western Australia early on the 24th and continued along the southern coast, with a mass of cold and unstable air that followed delivering widespread showers and storms across southern Australia.

A low pressure trough and a series of cold fronts affected southern and south-eastern Australia from the 26th, with a strongest front on the 29th bringing widespread rainfall to south-eastern South Australia, western New South Wales and western Victoria.

In South Australia, daily rainfall records for May were observed at some stations around the Yorke and Fleurieu peninsulas during the last few days of the month. Widespread showers and strong to gale force and gusty winds were observed over much of South Australia, including isolated thunderstorms in the south, a weak tornado reported at Salisbury in Adelaide's northern suburbs around 5am on the 29th.

Further discussion and tables of records for each state and the Northern Territory can be found in the individual regional climate summaries, to be released on Friday 3 June 2022.

1-month rainfall table ending May 2022
Area-average rainfall
  Rank
(of 123)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 104 40.8 +40%  
Queensland 119 76.4 +148% 5th highest; highest since 1989
New South Wales 107 70.2 +44%  
Victoria 41 44.7 −33%  
Tasmania 89 147.8 +9%  
South Australia 74 19.1 −11%  
Western Australia 90 31.2 +18%  
Northern Territory 57 4.3 −69%  
Murray-Darling Basin 115 70.3 +59% 9th highest; highest since 1989

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 123 (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 May 2022
Hottest day 39.2°C Curtin Aero (WA) on the 1st
Coldest day −3.7°C Mount Hotham (Vic.) on the 31st
Coldest night −9.9°C Liawenee (Tas.) on the 24th
Warmest night 28.8°C Troughton Island (WA) on the 6th
Wettest day 239.0 mm Wilsons Peak Alert (Qld.) on the 13th

Climate