Tasmania in March 2011: Another wet month, and a very cold start

Record heavy rainfalls and record cold temperatures featured in Tasmania during March 2011. The first week was exceptionally cold, giving the state its coldest March day and second coldest March night on record. Then exceptionally heavy rainfall fell in the northeast on the 23rd and 24th, breaking many records and causing major flooding of the South Esk river basin.

  • Very cold start to the month
  • 327 mm in a day at Gray
  • Overall, cool days and near normal overnight temperatures
  • Wettest start to a year on record in parts of the north

Rainfall-breaking heavy rain and flooding

Exceptionally heavy rainfall occurred in the northeast on the 23rd and 24th as a complex area of low pressure moved near the state. Gray recorded 327 mm in 24 hours, making it Tasmania’s third-wettest day on record, and many sites had their wettest March day on record. The two-day totals were also extreme, with Gray’s total of 452 mm having only been exceeded on 4-5 April 1929.

The rain caused major flooding in the South Esk river basin, with peak heights in some places comparable to the floods of May 1969 and just slightly lower than those of April 1929. There was also flash flooding and minor to moderate flooding in a number of other rivers in the northeast and central north.

Further details on this event are contained in a Special Climate Statement entitled Heavy rainfall and flooding in northeast Tasmania.

A wet month overall except in the west

As well as the heavy rain on the 23rd and 24th, there were also heavy falls in the northeast early on the 21st and in the northwest around the 22nd associated with the same weather system. In all, much of the state received over 100 mm for the month, including all of the northeast reaching west to Devonport and south to Orford as well as the Tasmania's far northwest corner and King Island. This area had at least twice its usual March rainfall, and many sites had their wettest March on record or for many years. Gray had the most rain, with a total of 492 mm for the month, and Pyengana was not far behind with 432 mm.

Cold fronts in the first and last few days of the month brought reasonable falls to the west, but a lack of westerly weather patterns after this meant that the west was drier than usual overall. A few sites in the Derwent Valley also missed out on much of the rain. Bushy Park, for example, only received 12 mm around the 24th and 19 mm in total, making it the driest site for the month.

Wettest start to a year on record in parts of the north

Heavy rain in the northeast during March added to the exceptional rain in the north during January (see Special Climate Statement 25) and a wetter than usual February to make it the wettest start to a year on record for a number of sites in the northern Tasmania. Several records in the northeast were remarkable, including Scamander's 682 mm that more than doubled the previous record, and Pioneer's 562 mm which is almost 100 mm more than any other January-to-March rainfall since records began over a century ago.

Most of Tasmania has had above average rainfall for the first three months of the year, with only a few sites in the west around Queenstown having near normal rainfall.

An extremely cold start to the month

The start of the month was very cold for the time of the year as a high pressure system over the Bight only slowly moved towards Tasmania. Temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees cooler than usual, meaning that daytime temperatures struggled to reach the high teens and overnight temperatures fell below zero at many locations.

The morning of the 5th was especially cold, with a number of sites having their lowest March temperature on record. Liawenee recorded Tasmania's second coldest March temperature on record, dipping to -5.3 C in the early hours of the morning. Tasmania's coldest March temperature is -6.9 C, set at Liawenee on 26 March 2005. 

Mount Wellington also set a new record, with its temperature only reaching -0.5 C on the 4th. This is the first time a Tasmanian site has recorded a maximum temperature below zero in March. On the 3rd Geeveston had its coldest March day on record, and many other sites had their coldest March day or night in around 15 years at the start of the month.

Cool days overall but near normal nights

The extremely cold temperatures at the start of the month were followed by a week of warmer weather. After that there were both warm and cool nights but daytime temperature were mostly below average. This meant that overall daytime temperatures were around a degree cooler than usual while overnight temperatures were within half a degree of average. Orford and Scottsdale were among the sites to have their lowest March mean daily maximum temperature on record or for many years.

An average month in Hobart

There was cold weather at the start and end of the month and some warm days in the middle, and the results for the whole of March were very close to average in Hobart: the mean daily maximum of 19.9 C was just 0.2 C below average, the mean daily minimum of 10.9 C was right on the long-term average, and the rainfall of 45.4 mm was just 0.3 mm more than usual. The big contrast is with last year: Hobart was more than 2 degrees cooler and 15 mm wetter than March 2010.

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Extremes in March 2011
Hottest day 30.8 C at Ouse Fire Station on the 12th
Warmest days on average 21.5 C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest days on average 10.2 C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day -0.5 C at Mount Wellington on the 4th
Coldest night -5.3 C at Liawenee on the 5th
Coolest nights on average 3.2 C at Liawenee
Warmest nights on average 14.5 C at Hogan Island
Warmest night 18.8 C at Hogan Island on the 13th
Warmest on average overall 16.9 C at Eddystone Point
Coolest on average overall 6.8 C at Mount Wellington
Wettest overall 491.8 mm at Gray (Dalmayne Rd)
Driest overall 19.0 mm at Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates)
Wettest day 327.2 mm at Gray (Dalmayne Rd) on the 24th
Highest wind gust 124 km/h at Mount Wellington on the 2nd

Maps

Observed Anomaly Decile rank
Total
rainfall
Map of Rainfall totals Map of Percentage of normal rainfall Map of Rainfall deciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of Mean maximum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of Mean minimum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean minimum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature

Click on a map to show it full size in a pop-up window


Record highest March daily rainfall

Highest daily rainfall
in March 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for March
Years of
record
Avoca (Railway House) 92.4 on the 24th 68.6 on the 3rd in 1981 105
Pioneer (Main Road) 142.4 on the 24th 93.7 on the 31st in 1959 97
Bicheno (Council Depot) 128.0 on the 24th 104.9 on the 26th in 1946 84
Gladstone (Old Post Office) 149.8 on the 24th 90.6 on the 19th in 1974 68
Pyengana (Forest Lodge Road) 200.0 on the 24th 96.0 on the 22nd in 1970 50
Scamander 118.0 on the 24th 77.2 on the 23rd in 1974 29
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 50.4 on the 23rd 34.8 on the 8th in 2010 24



Record highest total March rainfall

Total rainfall
for March 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Gladstone (Old Post Office) 262.4 253.6 in 1931 83 56.8
Orford (Aubin Court) 142.8 123.9 in 1970 58 46.4
Pyengana (Forest Lodge Road) 431.6 269.1 in 1970 50 80.2
Scamander 171.2 156.9 in 1974 29 66.6
Deviot Jetty 112.2 104.0 in 2001 22 39.3

Highest total March rainfall for at least 20 years
Total rainfall
for March 2011 (mm)
Most recent March
at least this wet
Years since
wetter
Average for
March
Pioneer (Main Road) 257.6 280.7 in 1911 98 59.5
Ringarooma (Charles Street) 182.6 335.4 in 1911 96 65.3
Fingal (Legge Street) 171.8 194.7 in 1970 41 45.0
Lewis Hill (St Pauls River) 166.0 295.0 in 1970 41 49.3
Swansea Post Office 165.2 187.5 in 1970 41 51.1
Avoca (Railway House) 129.8 148.5 in 1970 40 36.9
Victoria Valley (Glenrowan) 107.4 116.0 in 1975 36 56.2
Forthside Research Station 111.2 204.5 in 1977 34 54.2
Bicheno (Council Depot) 164.6 243.1 in 1970 33 57.5
Tooms Lake (Tooms River) 136.2 250.1 in 1970 33 43.5
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 139.4 272.6 in 1979 32 62.5
Lady Barron (Franklin Parade) 128.6 135.6 in 1979 30 55.5
Lorinna 135.7 136.9 in 1947 29 62.7
King Island Airport 83.8 147.6 in 1983 28 50.9
Naracoopa 113.6 147.4 in 1983 28 51.7
Frankford (Rossville) 142.0 152.4 in 1984 27 56.9
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 88.2 95.7 in 1984 27 36.7
Lilydale Post Office 121.8 165.2 in 1984 27 49.5
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 133.2 135.0 in 1984 27 54.3
Memana (Babel Farm) 105.2 190.6 in 1989 22 57.2



Record lowest March daily maximum temperature

Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in March 2011 (C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 11.3 on the 3rd 11.5 on the 30th in 1995 24 20.1



Record lowest March mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for March 2011 (C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Orford (Aubin Court) 18.8 18.9 in 2005 42 20.6
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 19.2 19.3 in 1975 39 21.3
Scamander 19.7 = 19.7 in 1976 28 20.7
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 15.8 16.0 in 1997 21 17.5

Lowest March mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for March 2011 (C)
Most recent March
at least this cool
Years since
cooler
Average for
March
Marrawah 18.0 17.9 in 1987 24 19.4
Swansea Post Office 19.5 19.4 in 1987 24 21.0



Record lowest March temperature

Lowest temperature
in March 2011 (C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Marrawah 3.5 on the 5th 5.2 on the 31st in 1995 41 11.6
Butlers Gorge -4.4 on the 5th -3.4 on the 12th in 1963 37 5.1
Tarraleah Village -2.5 on the 5th = -2.5 on the 26th in 2005 27 5.7
Wynyard Airport -0.2 on the 5th 0.0 on the 31st in 1995 26 9.5
Dover 1.9 on the 5th = 1.9 on the 28th in 2006 22 9.0
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) -3.1 on the 5th = -3.1 on the 28th in 2008 22 6.0
Lake St Clair National Park -4.1 on the 5th -3.6 on the 26th in 2005 20 4.2
Strahan Aerodrome 0.8 on the 5th 1.3 on the 7th in 1994 20 9.7




Record highest total January to March rainfall

Total rainfall
for January to March 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for January to March
Years of
record
Average for
January to March
Frankford (Rossville) 407.8 378.8 in 1946 118 157.6
Pioneer (Main Road) 562.3 468.6 in 1907 107 163.3
Mole Creek 451.8 432.8 in 1996 96 172.6
Devonport Airport 263.6 249.5 in 1977 47 126.4
Pyengana (Forest Lodge Road) 775.4 529.0 in 2004 47 234.3
Forthside Research Station 371.2 343.4 in 1996 45 153.1
Barrington Post Office 429.0 372.3 in 1977 44 173.8
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 325.8 300.0 in 1977 40 153.6
Wynyard Airport 328.4 310.4 in 1996 38 138.0
King Island Airport 272.6 193.8 in 1977 37 120.6
Scamander 682.0 309.2 in 2008 28 166.7
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 240.0 212.8 in 1990 24 114.4

Highest total January to March rainfall for at least 20 years
Total rainfall
for January to March 2011 (mm)
Most recent January to March
at least this wet
Years since
wetter
Average for
January to March
City of Melbourne Bay 251.8 430.3 in 1946 65 143.0
Burnie (Round Hill) 283.9 333.8 in 1946 64 139.2
Naracoopa 303.2 425.5 in 1946 64 135.3
Latrobe (Coal Road) 367.0 391.1 in 1946 63 137.5
Yolla (Sea View) 488.2 497.8 in 1946 62 201.5
Yambacoona 269.8 474.8 in 1946 61 120.3
Ringarooma (Charles Street) 363.0 481.8 in 1946 60 185.6
Ulverstone (Knights Road) 294.6 320.0 in 1956 53 138.3
Swansea Post Office 281.8 295.7 in 1971 40 142.9
Lady Barron (Franklin Parade) 267.6 289.5 in 1970 38 142.5
Marrawah 267.2 273.1 in 1975 36 159.5
Memana (Babel Farm) 279.8 283.6 in 1970 36 152.9
Lewis Hill (St Pauls River) 237.2 252.0 in 1977 34 132.4
Avoca (Railway House) 214.8 235.4 in 1977 33 110.4
Bicheno (Council Depot) 374.6 477.6 in 1970 33 170.3
Eddystone Point 298.2 309.4 in 1977 32 151.1
Gladstone (Old Post Office) 529.0 532.2 in 1977 32 161.3
Tooms Lake (Tooms River) 256.0 363.9 in 1970 31 121.2
Irishtown 244.6 257.4 in 1977 29 164.2
Lorinna 396.1 496.9 in 1946 29 191.2
Flinders Island Airport 216.5 277.6 in 1981 27 136.7




Summary statistics for March 2011
Maximum temperatures
for March
(C)
Minimum temperatures
for March
(C)
Rainfall
for March
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2011
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2011
Mean for
March
2011
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2011
Total for
March
2011
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2011
Fraction of
March
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport (Sea View Villas) 19.6 -1.4 24.0 13th 11.5 -0.1 4.0 5th 112.0 44.7 v high 251%
Burnie (Round Hill) 19.6 -0.4 23.9 13th 12.0 0.0 5.1 5th 48.6 49.9 average 97%
Cape Grim 17.2   21.0 21st 12.4   3.9 5th 80.2
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 17.4 -1.1 20.8 15th 12.3 -0.6 4.2 5th 83.2 43.1 v high 193%
Cressy Research Station 20.9 -1.9 27.8 13th 8.5 +0.4 -0.5 5th 131.0 43.6 v high 300%
Devonport Airport 19.2 -1.1 24.0 21st 10.8 0.0 3.3 5th 85.4 46.5 high 184%
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 21.5 -1.0 26.4 21st 10.5 +0.4 2.1 31st 88.2 36.7 v high 240%
Launceston Airport 21.1   27.3 13th 9.0   0.2 31st 110.6
Low Head 19.1 -0.8 22.3 10th 13.0 -0.2 7.3 5th 131.6 42.3 v high 311%
Luncheon Hill (Forestry) 17.4 -1.4 23.1 10th 9.1 -0.5 1.7 5th 68.0 82.0 average 83%
Marrawah 18.0 -1.4 22.0 21st 11.2 -0.4 3.5 5th 83.8 65.4 high 128%
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 19.2 -2.1 24.0 13th 9.9 0.0 1.4 5th 133.2 54.3 v high 245%
Sheffield School Farm 18.2 -1.8 23.0 21st 8.9 -0.4 0.9 5th 140.6 55.5 v high 253%
Smithton Aerodrome 19.2 -1.1 23.8 13th 10.0 +0.6 -0.4 5th 49.8 45.3 average 110%
Wynyard Airport 19.4 -0.7 26.0 13th 10.0 +0.5 -0.2 5th 48.8 45.0 average 108%
East Coast (district 92)
Bicheno (Council Depot) 20.0 -0.5 25.7 13th 11.6 -0.4 5.0 2nd 164.6 57.5 v high 286%
Eddystone Point 20.6 +0.2 25.6 9th 13.3 0.0 5.5 31st 133.2 58.1 v high 229%
Fingal (Legge Street) 20.1 -1.5 29.0 13th 8.0 +0.1 -1.4 2nd 171.8 45.0 v high 382%
Friendly Beaches 20.2 -1.3 29.0 13th 11.5 -0.4 5.3 5th 131.6 58.8 v high 224%
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 15.8 -1.7 23.8 13th 6.0 0.0 -3.1 5th 139.4 62.5 v high 223%
Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 18.6   25.2 13th 12.2   6.9 5th 80.8
Orford (Aubin Court) 18.8 -1.8 23.9 7th 10.0 -0.7 4.2 31st 142.8 46.4 highest 308%
Scamander 19.7 -1.0 29.0 13th 11.5 -0.3 4.1 2nd 171.2 66.6 highest 257%
St Helens Aerodrome 19.8 -1.2 27.5 13th 11.4 -0.1 3.5 31st 166.6 62.0 v high 269%
Swan Island 19.2   23.9 13th 14.0   8.4 31st 183.4 61.0 v high 301%
Swansea Post Office 19.5 -1.5 30.5 13th 9.6 -0.8 1.5 5th 165.2 51.1 v high 323%
Midlands (district 93)
Ross (The Boulevards) 20.5 -1.2 28.5 13th 8.4 +0.5 -3.3 5th 70.4 34.3 high 205%
Southeast (district 94)
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 18.7 -1.1 25.0 12th 10.3 -1.1 5.5 2nd 64.4 44.4 high 145%
Campania (Kincora) 21.1 -1.1 29.3 12th 9.4 -0.6 2.2 6th 50.2 36.5 high 138%
Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 17.4 -1.1 25.0 8th 10.7 -0.9 5.7 2nd 61.8 55.4 average 112%
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 16.8 -0.8 24.0 8th 11.0 -0.1 5.7 31st 74.4 68.6 average 108%
Dover 18.4 -0.7 25.0 8th 8.4 -0.6 1.9 5th 43.6 64.0 average 68%
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 18.8 -1.3 28.5 12th 8.9 +0.5 1.4 6th 44.0 54.3 average 81%
Grove (Research Station) 19.4   29.1 12th 7.1   -0.3 5th 74.2
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 19.9 -0.2 29.6 12th 10.9 0.0 5.9 5th 45.4 45.1 average 101%
Hobart Airport 20.2 -0.5 28.8 13th 10.6 -0.2 5.2 6th 50.2 36.5 high 138%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 15.1 -1.2 22.6 7th 10.3 -0.3 5.0 4th 60.0 85.1 low 71%
Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 19.8 -1.1 29.4 12th 8.0 -0.2 -1.8 5th 31.0 33.2 average 93%
Mount Wellington 10.2 -1.2 19.2 12th 3.3 -0.7 -3.3 5th 145.4 76.0 high 191%
Tasman Island 15.4   21.1 8th 10.3   4.4 5th 93.8 70.7 high 133%
Tunnack Fire Station 17.5 -1.6 25.6 13th 7.5 0.0 -3.5 5th 118.6 55.8 high 213%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 21.1 -0.7 29.3 12th 7.7 -0.7 -0.8 5th 19.0 39.2 low 48%
Maydena Post Office 17.9 -1.6 27.7 12th 7.2 +0.2 -1.5 5th 56.4 69.2 average 82%
Ouse Fire Station 20.9 -1.4 30.8 12th 7.2 -0.6 -2.1 5th 32.4 29.3 average 111%
Tarraleah Village 16.5 -1.0 25.0 12th 5.9 +0.2 -2.5 5th 96.0 70.7 high 136%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Butlers Gorge 15.6 -1.0 23.5 12th 4.9 -0.2 -4.4 5th 133.0 100.0 high 133%
Lake St Clair National Park 15.9 -0.7 23.6 12th 4.4 +0.2 -4.1 5th 134.4 107.1 high 125%
Liawenee 14.7 -1.4 21.5 28th 3.2 -0.4 -5.3 5th 92.4 57.6 high 160%
West Coast (district 97)
Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 12.8 -1.7 22.8 12th 5.4 -0.7 -0.8 4th 67.2 68.9 average 98%
Mount Read 11.1 -0.7 18.8 12th 4.1 -0.8 -1.8 5th 223.0 263.6 average 85%
Scotts Peak Dam 16.8 -1.6 28.2 12th 7.7 -0.6 1.8 5th 133.6 116.9 average 114%
Strahan Aerodrome 18.9 -0.5 27.8 12th 10.0 +0.3 0.8 5th 75.2 102.5 average 73%
Strathgordon Village 15.8 -1.6 25.8 12th 8.4 -0.1 1.7 5th 145.0 147.3 average 98%
Warra 15.4   25.2 12th 6.8   -1.3 5th 138.0
King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 18.8 -1.2 26.3 12th 12.3 +0.4 4.9 5th 83.8 50.9 v high 165%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 20.4 -0.9 28.5 13th 12.9 +0.4 4.2 6th 85.4 50.5 high 169%
Hogan Island 19.2   26.0 13th 14.5   10.8 5th 140.0
Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 7.7 -0.3 9.9 9th 4.3 -0.4 0.6 19th 104.2 99.5 average 105%

Notes

A Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Tasmania 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.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 9 am on Friday 1 April 2011. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
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