Tasmania in January 2012: Warm days, warm nights, and unseasonal cold

January was an interesting month, with both record warm and record cold temperatures. Overall the month was warmer than average. Rainfall was near average in most areas, mostly due to a wet burst on the 30th, and in the north and west mid-month.

  • Record warm January nights at Hobart Airport, Scamander and Wynyard Airport
  • Coldest January day since 2005 at Burnie and Launceston
  • Very cold in the southeast on the 31st
  • Heavy rain on the 30th, including a record 64 mm at Maatsuyker Island
  • Warm days and nights

    The start of the month was warm and humid as a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea directed warm, moist air from the mainland across Tasmania. Nights were generally 2 to 5 degrees warmer than average, while day time temperatures were as much as 11 degrees above average. The 3rd was particularly warm: Hobart Airport recorded its warmest January night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record, not falling below 21.2 °C, and several locations in the east and southeast climbed above 30 °C during the day. The highest temperature was 37.2 °C at Scamander (more than 15 °C above its January average). Overnight, Scamander's temperature didn't fall below 19.8 °C, making it their warmest January night on record. Maximum temperatures also exceeded 30 °C at several locations from the 16th to 18th, and on several days from the 23rd to the 30th. Nights were warm during these periods too, with Wynyard Airport recording its warmest January night on record the morning of the 30th, when the temperature fell to only 19.9 °C (though this record has been exceeded previously at the old Wynyard (Jackson Street) site on 29 January 1974 with a minimum of 20.4 °C).

    Unseasonal cold spell

    The second week of January was unseasonably cold in a southwesterly airstream with a number of cold fronts crossing the state. Temperatures were generally 2 to 9 degrees below average, and up to 12 degrees below average in the west. On the 10th, a few sites in the north had their coldest January day in 7 years, including Burnie (16.6 °C) and Launceston (18.4 °C). The following morning both Hobart and Hobart Airport had their coldest January mornings in 8 years, with minimum temperatures of 6.3 °C and 5.8 °C respectively.

    A Special Climate Statement entitled Unseasonal cold in southeast Australia was issued on this event for the southeast mainland.

    Temperatures dropped again significantly on the 31st following the passage of a cold front, with temperatures at most locations struggling to reach the mid-teens. Sites in the southeast had their coldest January day in several years, including Bull Bay (14.0 °C) where it hadn't been this cold in January in 12 years, and Campania (15.7 °C) in 7 years.

    Warm days and nights overall

    Overall, bot maximum and minimum temperatures were up to two degrees warmer than average. Scamander, Geeveston and Tarraleah Village had their highest January mean daily minimum temperature on record. Bushy Park also had its highest January mean daily minimum temperature in 24 years.

    Heavy rain at the end of the month

    Most areas of Tasmania were relatively dry for much of January until the passage of a cold front and low pressure system on the 30th delivered around 30 to 60 mm of rain to the west and southeast, and up to 20 mm to most other areas. Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse recorded 64.4 mm of rain with this event, which is its wettest January day on record, and also its wettest day (of any month) since 9 July 1916 when 121.9 mm was recorded.

    The 8th to the 10th was also a wet period in the north and west of the state with daily totals up to around 30 mm, as several cold fronts and troughs of low pressure affected Tasmania.

    For the whole month, rainfall was near average apart from an area of the northeast where several sites had less than half their January average, including Mathinna which was the driest location overall, with only 9 mm. Mount Read was the wettest location with 240 mm.

    Hobart: many warm days and nights, but very cold ones too

    There were more warm days and nights than cold in January, with both maximum and minimum temperatures close to 2 degrees warmer than average. There were 8 days where the temperature exceeded 28 °C, which has only happened twice before in any month: January 1961 and February 1895. Of those 8 days, 7 saw the temperature exceed 29 °C, which has never happened before in January, and only once in any other month (February 2001). There were 12 mornings where the minimum temperature did not fall below 15 °C. This is a new record for Hobart in January (previous record of 10 days set in 1961, 1971, 2001 and 2008).

    Despite all the warmth, Hobart also experienced unseasonal cold: 6.3 °C on the morning of the 11th was the coldest January morning in 8 years, and the 31st was Hobart Airport's coldest January day in 12 years (14.7 °C) and Hobart's coldest in 7 years (15.4 °C).

    Hobart received 56 mm of rain for the month, just above the long-term average of 48 mm. Most of this fell on the 30th and into the morning of the 31st (29 mm) with the passage of a cold front, and on the evening of the 17th when thunderstorms developed over the Hobart area. Conditions were hot and humid on this day, with vigorous thunderstorms forming as a cold front moved through. Lightning caused power outages in some areas.

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    Extremes in January 2012
    Hottest day37.2 °C at Scamander on the 3rd
    Warmest days on average26.3 °C at Ouse Fire Station
    Coolest days on average 14.7 °C at Mount Wellington
    Coldest day3.7 °C at Mount Read on the 10th
    Coldest night-1.3 °C at Mount Wellington on the 11th
    Coolest nights on average 5.8 °C at Liawenee and Mount Wellington
    Warmest nights on average15.6 °C at Swan Island
    Warmest night21.3 °C at Hobart (Ellerslie Road) on the 3rd
    Warmest on average overall19.4 °C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
    Coolest on average overall10.2 °C at Mount Wellington
    Wettest overall240.4 mm at Mount Read
    Driest overall8.8 mm at Mathinna (South Esk River)
    Wettest day 74.6 mm at Catamaran and Southport (Huon Highway) on the 31st
    Highest wind gust139 km/h at Mount Wellington on the 9th

    Maps
    ObservedAnomalyDecile 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 January daily rainfall
    Highest daily rainfall
    in January 2012 (mm)
    Previous wettest
    for January
    Years of
    record
    Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 64.4 on the 31st 53.3 on the 3rd in 1913 113



    Record highest January daily minimum temperature
    Highest daily minimum
    temperature
    in January 2012 (°C)
    Previous warmest
    for January
    Years of
    record
    Average for
    January
    Hobart Airport 21.2 on the 3rd 21.0 on the 3rd in 1973 54 12.0
    Scamander 19.8 on the 4th 19.5 on the 30th in 2009 28 12.7
    Wynyard Airport 19.9 on the 30th 19.1 on the 17th in 2007 25 11.0



    Record highest January mean daily minimum temperature
    Mean daily minimum
    temperature
    for January 2012 (°C)
    Previous warmest
    for January
    Years of
    record
    Average for
    January
    Scamander 14.3 13.8 in 2011 27 12.7
    Tarraleah Village 9.3 9.1 in 2001 27 7.1
    Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 11.2 = 11.2 in 2011 25 9.8

    Highest January mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
    Mean daily minimum
    temperature
    for January 2012 (°C)
    Most recent January
    at least this warm
    Years since
    warmer
    Average for
    January
    Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 11.5 11.8 in 1988 24 10.0



    Lowest January mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
    Mean daily minimum
    temperature
    for January 2012 (°C)
    Most recent January
    at least this cool
    Years since
    cooler
    Average for
    January
    Macquarie Island 4.6 =4.6 in 1976 36 5.3



    Record highest January mean temperature
    Mean daily
    temperature
    for January 2012 (°C)
    Previous warmest
    for January
    Years of
    record
    Average for
    January
    Tarraleah Village 15.6 15.5 in 2001 27 13.3
    Devonport Airport 17.7 = 17.7 in 2008 20 16.7



    Summary statistics for January 2012
    Maximum temperatures
    for January
    (°C)
    Minimum temperatures
    for January
    (°C)
    Rainfall
    for January
    (millimetres)
    Mean for
    January
    2012
    Diff
    from
    average
    Highest for
    January
    2012
    Mean for
    January
    2012
    Diff
    from
    average
    Lowest for
    January
    2012
    Total for
    January
    2012
    Average
    for
    January
    Rank of
    January
    2012
    Fraction of
    January
    average
    Northern (district 91)
    Bridport (Sea View Villas) 22.4 +0.6 27.7 3rd 13.7 +0.6 6.4 11th 36.3 56.3 average 64%
    Burnie (Round Hill) 22.6 +1.6 28.8 26th     8.1 6th 51.0 44.6 average 114%
    Cape Grim 19.6   26.0 17th 14.0   8.7 11th 47.6
    Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 19.8 +1.0 26.5 17th 13.9 +0.9 8.8 11th 45.6 37.0 high 123%
    Cressy Research Station 26.0 +1.0 32.9 3rd 10.7 +0.6 2.8 11th 21.0 31.8 average 66%
    Devonport Airport 22.4 +1.2 28.0 18th 13.0 +0.8 5.6 11th 26.8 42.7 average 63%
    Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 25.6 +1.4 31.2 29th 13.2 +1.0 6.5 11th 23.6 45.9 low 51%
    Launceston Airport 25.7   32.0 29th 11.2   3.7 11th 25.6
    Low Head 21.2 +1.0 24.7 3rd 14.9 +0.7 9.8 11th 35.4 50.9 average 70%
    Luncheon Hill (Forestry) 21.8 +0.9 30.2 24th 11.0 +0.5 5.6 11th 78.8 80.6 average 98%
    Marrawah 21.1 +1.0 27.2 17th 13.0 +1.1 8.2 11th 61.2 49.4 high 124%
    Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 24.0 +1.2 30.5 29th 11.7 +0.9 3.2 11th 55.2 58.2 average 95%
    Sheffield School Farm 23.2 +1.4 28.7 29th 10.7 0.0 3.7 11th 49.0 48.8 average 100%
    Smithton Aerodrome 21.9 +0.4 26.8 3rd 12.1 +1.0 3.9 6th 47.6 42.7 average 111%
    Wynyard Airport 22.2 +0.9 27.1 25th 12.3 +1.3 4.2 5th 65.2 44.6 high 146%
    East Coast (district 92)
    Eddystone Point 23.7 +2.8 28.7 18th 14.7 +1.1 7.3 11th 23.8 45.5 low 52%
    Fingal (Legge Street) 24.8 +1.4 35.0 3rd 11.2 +0.9 2.7 11th 12.4 43.8 low 28%
    Friendly Beaches 23.8 +0.9 33.0 3rd 13.6 +0.5 7.8 11th 27.6 59.0 average 47%
    Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 20.5 +1.2 29.6 3rd 8.9 +0.6 1.4 11th 26.4 54.7 low 48%
    Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 21.5   28.5 17th 14.2   9.5 11th 28.0
    Orford (Aubin Court) 22.8 +0.8 29.2 17th 12.5 +0.7 6.4 11th 30.2 48.8 low 62%
    Scamander 22.7 +0.7 37.2 3rd 14.3 +1.6 7.9 14th 17.8 56.3 low 32%
    St Helens Aerodrome 23.4 +0.8 35.1 3rd 14.1 +1.0 6.3 11th 19.2 53.5 low 36%
    Swan Island 21.9 +1.2 27.4 17th 15.6 +0.9 9.4 12th 38.8 49.5 average 78%
    Swansea (Francis Street) 23.0   31.7 17th 12.7   6.5 14th 21.3
    Midlands (district 93)
    Ross (The Boulevards) 25.9 +1.6 34.7 3rd 10.7 +0.1 2.0 11th 21.4 46.3 low 46%
    Southeast (district 94)
    Bull Bay (Lauriston) 21.6 +0.4 32.0 17th 12.6 +0.4 7.0 11th 73.2 50.6 high 145%
    Campania (Kincora) 25.4 +1.3 34.4 29th 12.0 +0.7 3.5 11th 54.0 38.9 average 139%
    Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 20.4 +0.8 30.7 17th 12.5 +0.4 7.5 11th 87.8 46.0 high 191%
    Cape Bruny Lighthouse 19.7 +1.4 30.6 17th 12.6 +1.2 7.8 11th 78.9 62.3 high 127%
    Dover 21.1 +0.5 33.0 17th 10.9 +0.7 4.6 6th 77.8 53.2 high 146%
    Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 22.8 +1.1 33.1 29th 11.2 +1.4 5.4 11th 66.6 56.9 average 117%
    Grove (Research Station) 23.7   34.2 17th 10.2   2.8 11th 71.6
    Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 23.7 +2.1 36.0 17th 13.5 +1.6 6.3 11th 56.0 47.6 average 118%
    Hobart Airport 23.7 +1.2 33.2 3rd 13.1 +1.1 5.8 11th 45.4 40.5 average 112%
    Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 17.5 +0.5 28.0 2nd 11.6 +0.9 6.8 10th 118.8 79.6 high 149%
    Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 24.7 +0.8 32.7 29th 11.0 +0.7 2.4 11th 40.4 31.8 average 127%
    Mount Wellington 14.7 +1.4 24.1 29th 5.8 +1.1 -1.3 11th 91.0 86.6 average 105%
    Tasman Island 18.3 +0.5 27.8 17th 11.6 +0.2 7.1 12th 83.6 76.3 average 110%
    Tunnack Fire Station 22.2 +0.6 31.0 29th 9.6 +0.8 1.8 11th 49.6 45.1 average 110%
    Derwent Valley (district 95)
    Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 26.0 +2.1 35.8 29th 11.5 +1.5 3.9 11th 39.2 41.0 average 96%
    Maydena Post Office 22.7 +0.6 33.7 29th 9.7 +0.8 4.4 11th 66.3 61.3 average 108%
    Ouse Fire Station 26.3 +1.0 36.5 29th 11.2 +1.1 3.6 11th 31.2 26.9 average 116%
    Tarraleah Village 21.6 +2.1 31.4 29th 9.3 +2.2 3.0 11th 58.1 69.6 average 83%
    Central Plateau (district 96)
    Butlers Gorge 20.1 +1.3 31.2 2nd 7.4 +1.1 0.6 15th 90.2 96.8 average 93%
    Lake St Clair National Park 20.3 +1.0 30.5 2nd 7.2 +0.9 0.5 15th 93.2 101.7 average 92%
    Liawenee 19.5 +0.8 28.9 29th 5.8 +0.6 -1.1 6th 28.2 49.6 low 57%
    West Coast (district 97)
    Cape Sorell 20.3 +2.1 27.6 2nd 13.3 +1.6 8.6 11th 62.0 69.5 average 89%
    Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 18.1 +0.3 31.1 29th 7.6 +0.5 0.3 11th 80.0 66.1 average 121%
    Mount Read 14.8 +0.6 26.4 29th 6.7 +1.0 -0.1 11th 240.4 199.3 average 121%
    Scotts Peak Dam 21.9 +1.4 34.4 29th 9.7 +0.4 3.8 10th 143.8 105.5 high 136%
    Strahan Aerodrome 22.0 +1.4 33.9 2nd 11.5 +0.8 6.8 6th 78.4 85.9 average 91%
    Strathgordon Village 20.8 +1.6 32.0 29th 10.5 +1.0 5.3 11th 150.4 146.1 average 103%
    Warra 20.2   31.7 29th 8.8   3.2 11th 135.0
    King Island (district 98)
    King Island Airport 21.9 +1.2 33.5 17th 13.1 +0.8 7.5 6th 46.8 39.2 high 119%
    Flinders Island (district 99)
    Flinders Island Airport 23.5 +1.4 29.8 17th 13.5 +0.2 6.7 5th 37.8 45.6 average 83%
    Hogan Island 21.9   28.6 17th 15.2   10.4 11th 53.0
    Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
    Macquarie Island 8.6 -0.2 10.3 17th 4.6 -0.7 1.9 27th 100.0 84.7 high 118%

    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 Wednesday 1 February 2012. 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
    Enquiries