Tasmania in March 2012: Some heavy rain and a cold snap

A cold snap around the 23rd brought some record low temperatures and highland snow, but temperatures during March were near average overall. Most of the state was wetter than usual after several low pressure systems moved near Tasmania bringing moderate to heavy falls. Only a section of the east had below average rainfall.

  • Coldest March day on record at several sites on the 23rd
  • 0 C at Mount Read, Tasmania's 2nd coldest March day on record
  • Wettest March day on record at Irishtown, Waratah and Gowrie Park
  • Record warm overnight temperatures on the 21st

Cold snap with snowfalls and strong winds

Tasmania was affected by an extremely cold airmass on the 23rd and 24th after an active cold front crossed the state overnight on the 22nd. Showers fell across the state with some hail and snowfalls to around 700 metres. Only a few areas in the east reached over 15 C on the 23rd and quite a few sites had their coldest March day on record, some by several degrees. Mount Read's maximum of  0 C was the second coldest March day on record for Tasmania; the coldest is -0.5 C at Mount Wellington, set last year. 

The cold persisted overnight with minimums on the 24th up to 10 C cooler than usual and frost in some areas. Scottsdale fell to -0.8 C, and was one of a few sites that had their coldest March night on record. Temperatures gradually warmed over the next few days.

Strong winds were another feature of the 23rd, with gusts reaching 146 km/h on Hogan Island and 143 km/h at Cape Grim. Only a couple of stronger wind gusts have been recorded in Tasmania during March. Swells were also high, reaching 6 metres at Maatsuyker Island.

Warm nights but cool days

Despite a warm period between the 13th and 21st, average maximum temperatures for March were on the cool side of average across most of the state. There was an absence of very hot days: Strahan (30.3 C) and Launceston (30.0 C) were the only two sites to reach 30 C, both on the 14th. Overnight temperatures, however, were warmer than usual for most of the month with the only cool period occurring between the 22nd and 28th. The 15th, 16th, 20th and 21st were the warmest nights, with winds, cloud and rain preventing much cooling. Flinders Island Airport had the warmest night, not falling below 19.7 C in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 15th, while Launceston (19.0 C), Dover (17.8 C) and Maydena (16.4 C) all had their warmest March night on record on the 21st. 

For the whole month, maximum temperatures were generally around half a degree cooler than usual while minimum temperatures were half a degree warmer than usual in most areas.

Wet, except in the east

Three major rain events affected Tasmania this month: a low pressure system and cold front on the 3rd and 4th brought falls of 30 to 60 mm to much of the north and west with lighter falls across the rest of the state; a further 30 to 60 mm fell in the northwest with a similar pattern on the 15-16th; and cold fronts between the 21st and 23rd (that included the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Lua) delivered 60 to 90 mm to much of the west. On the 16th Waratah (68.2 mm), Gowrie Park (53.2 mm) and Irishtown (50.6 mm) had their wettest March day on record. Mount Read had the wettest day recording 83.6 mm on the 5th, but Sheffield was also very wet on the 4th with a daily total of 77.6 mm.

The rainfall from these three events ensured that it was a wetter than usual March in all but the east. Fingal missed out on much of the rain and was the state's driest site with just 20 mm for the whole month. In contrast, Mount Read was the wettest site with 375 mm (though this total is likely to be higher, due to snow being blown away on some days). Cape Grim had its wettest March on record with a total of 116 mm and a few other sites in the northwest had their wettest March for at least 20 years.

Warmer and drier than usual in Hobart

A cold snap on the 23rd and 24th that brought snow to Mount Wellington was a highlight of Hobart's weather during March 2012. The temperature remained below 10 C for most of the afternoon on the 23rd, and dropped to 6 C at 2 pm. Maximums of just 12.4 C on the 23rd and 14.1 C on the 24th made it Hobart's coldest consecutive March days since 1994. The cold snap followed a warm period between the 13th and 21st, peaking on the 19th and 20th when the temperature reached 27.6 C and 27.0 C respectively. The average maximum temperature of 20.7 C was around half a degree warmer than usual.

Overnight, temperatures were warm for most of the month and averaged at 12.0 C, over a degree above normal. There were only six nights below 10 C, all in a row from the 23rd to the 28th. The lowest temperature was 5.5 C on the 24th, while the warmest night was 18.3 C on the 21st.

Rainfall was below average with a total of 30.8 mm, about 70% of normal. Most of the rain fell with cold fronts between the 3rd and 6th, and again from the 21st to 23rd. Thunderstorms were reported in the area during the afternoon of the 4th.

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Extremes in March 2012
Hottest day 30.3 C at Strahan Aerodrome on the 14th
Warmest days on average 22.1 C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest days on average10.4 C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day 0.0 C at Mount Read on the 23rd
Coldest night -3.0 C at Mount Wellington on the 24th
Coolest nights on average 3.3 C at Mount Wellington
Warmest nights on average 14.3 C at Swan Island
Warmest night 19.7 C at Flinders Island Airport on the 15th
Warmest on average overall 17.5 C at Eddystone Point
Coolest on average overall 6.9 C at Mount Wellington
Wettest overall 374.6 mm* at Mount Read
Driest overall 20.0 mm at Fingal (Legge Street)
Wettest day 83.6 mm at Mount Read on the 5th
Highest wind gust 146 km/h at Hogan Island on the 23rd
* It is likely some snow was blown away at Mount Read, hence the monthly rainfall should be higher. 
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 March daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall
in March 2012 (mm)
Previous wettest
for March
Years of
record
Irishtown 50.6 on the 16th 48.0 on the 29th in 1962 99
Waratah (Mount Road) 68.2 on the 16th 57.9 on the 27th in 1908 95
Gowrie Park 53.2 on the 16th 46.2 on the 29th in 1968 37



Record highest total March rainfall
Total rainfall
for March 2012 (mm)
Previous wettest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 116.4 96.2 in 2010 25 46.0

Highest total March rainfall for at least 20 years
Total rainfall
for March 2012 (mm)
Most recent March
at least this wet
Years since
wetter
Average for
March
Burnie (Round Hill) 148.4 158.9 in 1975 37 51.3
Wynyard Airport 131.2 168.0 in 1956* 31 47.4
Irishtown 121.6 143.4 in 1977* 30 64.4
Yolla (Sea View) 166.4 170.4 in 1984* 26 74.1
* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a higher value has gone unreported.


Record lowest March daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in March 2012 (C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 8.6 on the 23rd 10.0 on the 11th in 1970 56 16.3
Burnie (Round Hill) 13.4 on the 23rd = 13.4 on the 30th in 1987 48 20.0
Butlers Gorge 3.2 on the 23rd 4.4 on the 28th in 1958 38 16.5
Strathgordon Village 6.5 on the 23rd = 6.5 on the 31st in 1975 31 17.3
Tarraleah Village 3.9 on the 23rd 7.5 on the 31st in 1998 28 17.5
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 10.4 on the 23rd 11.3 on the 3rd in 2011 25 20.1
Dover 10.2 on the 23rd 11.7 on the 30th in 1995 23 19.1
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 7.9 on the 23rd 8.1 on the 12th in 1994 23 17.4
Devonport Airport 13.6 on the 23rd 14.0 on the 15th in 1998 21 20.3
Lake St Clair National Park 2.7 on the 23rd 6.0 on the 31st in 1995 21 16.6
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 12.2 on the 23rd 13.0 on the 5th in 2005 20 18.4
Maydena Post Office 7.5 on the 23rd 9.2 on the 31st in 1995 20 19.4



Record highest March daily minimum temperature
Highest daily minimum
temperature
in March 2012 (C)
Previous warmest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 19.0 on the 21st 18.5 on the 4th in 1992 29 10.1
Dover 17.8 on the 21st 17.2 on the 26th in 2010 23 9.0
Maydena Post Office 16.4 on the 21st 16.0 on the 2nd in 2007 20 7.0



Record lowest March temperature
Lowest temperature
in March 2012 (C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 2.9 on the 24th 3.3 on the 5th in 1967 56 11.1
Eddystone Point 3.4 on the 24th 3.8 on the 31st in 1995 55 13.3
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) -0.8 on the 24th -0.6 on the 28th in 1978 41 9.9




Summary statistics for March 2012
Maximum temperatures
for March
(C)
Minimum temperatures
for March
(C)
Rainfall
for March
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2012
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2012
Mean for
March
2012
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2012
Total for
March
2012
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2012
Fraction of
March
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport (Sea View Villas) 20.6 -0.3 27.2 14th 11.5 -0.1 2.5 24th 53.0 44.9 average 118%
Burnie (Round Hill) 20.7 +0.7 25.2 14th 11.9 -0.1 5.0 24th 148.4 51.3 v high 289%
Cape Grim 18.4   22.6 20th 12.9   6.6 23rd 117.2
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 18.8 +0.4 22.7 20th 12.8 0.0 6.9 23rd 116.4 46.0 highest 253%
Cressy Research Station 21.6 -1.1 29.0 14th 8.3 +0.2 -1.8 24th
Devonport Airport 20.5 +0.2 25.9 14th 10.6 -0.2 2.5 24th 57.0 46.9 high 122%
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 22.1 -0.4 30.0 14th 10.2 +0.1 1.8 24th 38.6 36.7 average 105%
Launceston Airport 21.8   29.8 14th 8.8   -0.1 24th 35.2
Low Head 20.2 +0.3 25.4 14th 12.8 -0.4 7.0 25th 62.2 43.5 high 143%
Luncheon Hill (Forestry) 18.3 -0.4 26.0 14th 9.8 +0.2 3.5 23rd 134.6 85.1 high 158%
Marrawah 19.1 -0.2 24.5 14th 11.9 +0.3 5.5 23rd 116.0 66.6 high 174%
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 20.3 -1.0 28.0 14th 10.0 +0.1 -0.8 24th 72.8 54.7 high 133%
Sheffield School Farm 19.4 -0.4 25.7 14th 8.4 -0.8 2.2 24th 136.8 61.3 high 223%
Smithton Aerodrome 20.0 -0.2 24.4 14th 9.9 +0.5 4.1 22nd 110.0 49.6 v high 222%
Wynyard Airport 20.2 +0.1 24.5 14th 9.9 +0.4 3.2 24th 131.2 47.4 v high 277%
East Coast (district 92)
Bicheno (Council Depot) 20.4 -0.1 26.8 4th 12.7 +0.7 6.0 25th 36.7 57.3 average 64%
Eddystone Point 21.4 +1.0 25.9 31st 13.6 +0.3 3.4 24th 47.4 58.0 average 82%
Fingal (Legge Street) 21.2 -0.3 29.3 14th 8.0 +0.1 -1.8 25th 20.0 45.0 average 44%
Friendly Beaches 21.0 -0.5 28.4 31st 12.0 +0.1 6.2 24th 58.0 58.7 average 99%
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 16.7 -0.7 22.9 14th 6.3 +0.3 -0.2 26th 49.0 62.4 average 79%
Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 20.0   24.9 31st 13.1   6.3 24th 28.2
Orford (Aubin Court) 20.4 -0.1 26.5 31st 10.8 +0.2 5.2 25th 34.8 46.2 average 75%
Scamander 20.1 -0.6 25.7 31st 11.6 -0.2 4.2 24th 64.6 66.6 average 97%
St Helens Aerodrome 20.3 -0.6 25.4 14th 11.4 -0.1 3.1 24th 79.4 64.1 average 124%
Swan Island 20.1 -0.2 24.7 20th 14.3 +0.1 6.8 24th 37.2 58.8 average 63%
Swansea (Francis Street) 21.0   28.4 31st 10.5   2.8 25th 32.4
Midlands (district 93)
Ross (The Boulevards) 21.2 -0.5 29.5 14th 8.2 +0.3 0.0 24th 28.6 34.0 average 84%
Southeast (district 94)
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 19.5 -0.3 25.5 31st 11.4 0.0 4.3 24th 41.8 44.3 average 94%
Campania (Kincora) 21.8 -0.3 27.6 20th 9.7 -0.2 4.0 25th 28.6 35.8 average 80%
Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 18.8 +0.4 25.2 20th 11.9 +0.4 3.6 24th 61.2 55.8 average 110%
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 18.2 +0.6 24.2 20th 11.9 +0.8 2.9 24th 72.4 68.6 average 106%
Dover 19.0 -0.1 25.6 20th 9.5 +0.5 3.9 24th 62.6 64.0 average 98%
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 19.7 -0.4 26.8 19th 9.4 +1.0 3.6 24th 61.2 54.5 average 112%
Grove (Research Station) 20.6   27.2 19th 8.1   1.8 24th 45.2
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 20.7 +0.6 27.6 19th 12.0 +1.1 5.5 24th 30.8 45.0 average 68%
Hobart Airport 21.1 +0.4 28.1 20th 11.2 +0.4 4.3 25th 21.0 36.3 average 58%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 16.5 +0.2 23.2 20th 11.6 +1.0 5.3 24th 103.4 85.2 high 121%
Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 20.2 -0.7 27.2 14th 8.7 +0.5 2.9 24th 28.8 32.9 average 88%
Mount Wellington 10.4 -0.9 17.4 19th 3.3 -0.7 -3.0 24th
Tasman Island 16.8 0.0 21.7 4th 11.5 +0.4 4.6 24th 65.4 70.3 high 93%
Tunnack Fire Station 18.2 -0.8 26.1 14th 7.5 0.0 0.6 24th 34.6 54.4 average 64%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 21.6 -0.2 28.3 19th 9.1 +0.7 2.6 24th 43.8 39.2 average 112%
Maydena Post Office 18.9 -0.5 27.6 14th 8.1 +1.1 2.0 24th 112.4 71.0 high 158%
Ouse Fire Station 21.5 -0.7 29.4 14th 8.8 +1.0 3.5 28th 38.8 29.9 high 130%
Tarraleah Village 16.4 -1.1 25.2 14th 7.1 +1.4 0.2 24th 115.1 71.3 high 161%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Butlers Gorge 15.7 -0.8 25.2 14th 5.9 +0.8 0.3 24th 139.6 100.6 high 139%
Lake St Clair National Park 15.8 -0.8 25.2 14th 5.4 +1.2 -0.2 24th 146.4 108.9 high 134%
Liawenee 14.4 -1.6 22.1 14th 4.0 +0.4 -2.9 26th 84.8 59.7 high 142%
West Coast (district 97)
Cape Sorell 19.1 +1.6 27.8 14th 12.4 +0.9 6.6 23rd 82.8 83.6 average 99%
Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 13.5 -0.9 21.2 14th 6.1 0.0 -0.4 24th
Mount Read 11.0 -0.8 21.6 14th 4.8 0.0 -1.8 24th 374.6* 263.6 v high 142%
Scotts Peak Dam 17.7 -0.5 26.1 19th 8.5 +0.3 2.0 24th 145.0 119.2 average 122%
Strahan Aerodrome 19.6 +0.2 30.3 14th 10.2 +0.5 4.3 7th 114.2 102.9 average 111%
Strathgordon Village 16.5 -0.8 23.2 19th 8.8 +0.3 2.4 24th 191.9 148.3 high 129%
Warra 15.7   22.9 19th 7.3   0.9 24th 122.8
King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 20.3 +0.4 28.4 14th 12.6 +0.6 7.4 24th 51.2 51.0 average 100%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 20.7 -0.6 29.3 14th 13.0 +0.5 6.5 28th 37.0 50.5 average 73%
Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 8.4 +0.4 10.1 16th 5.0 +0.3 2.6 25th 89.8 99.4 average 90%
* It is likely some snow was blown away at Mount Read, hence the monthly rainfall should be higher. 

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 Monday 2 April 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
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