Tasmania in January 2013: Record heat, little rain

Early January saw extremely hot temperatures across Tasmania, with several sites breaking all-time maximum temperature records on the 4th and a few breaking records for high minimum temperatures. Hobart recorded a maximum of 41.8 °C, Tasmania's second-highest temperature and the highest ever observed in southern Tasmania. Several fires flared in hot and dry conditions on the 4th, one near Forcett causing extensive damage to Dunalley and surrounding areas. Rainfall was below average throughout the state.

  • A record 41.8 °C in Hobart on the 4th
  • Hottest day on record at several other sites in the southeast
  • Highest January minimum temperature on record in Hobart, Cape Bruny and Geeveston
  • Destructive bushfires
  • Below average rainfall

Record breaking heat

Temperatures in the East, South East and Derwent Valley districts rose into the mid-30s on the 3rd and into the low 40s on the 4th as a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea combined with an approaching low pressure trough and cold front to direct a very hot northerly airflow over Tasmania. Several stations recorded either their highest temperature on record (for any month), or their highest January temperature on record. Hobart recorded its warmest temperature in 120 years of record with 41.8 °C, breaking the previous record of 40.8 °C set on 4 January 1976. This is the highest temperature recorded anywhere in southern Tasmania, and the second-highest in the state. Hobart's previous record of 40.8 °C had stood as Tasmania's warmest temperature on record for 33 years, before it was broken by Scamander's 42.2 °C on 30 January 2009.

Minimum temperatures were also quite warm in the southeast on the 4th. Hobart, Hobart Airport, Geeveston and Cape Bruny Island all recorded their highest January minimum temperature on record, their temperatures not dropping below 20 °C between 9am on the 3rd and 9am on the 4th.

Record temperatures in Tasmania were part of a heatwave that affected much of Australia. More details can be found in Special Climate Statement 43 - extreme heat in January 2013.

Overall, maximum temperatures were warmer than average, by up to 2 °C. On the east coast, Bicheno had its highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record. Minimum temperatures were generally within 1 °C of average.

Destructive bushfires

On 4 January, fresh to strong and gusty north to northwesterly winds combined with record heat and low relative humidity to produce widespread areas of Severe to Extreme Fire Danger. The last few months of 2012 were also drier than average, contributing to the drying out of soil and vegetation in most areas. Up to 40 bushfires flared across Tasmania in these conditions, with fires at Bicheno on the east coast, Forcett in the southeast and Lake Repulse in the Upper Derwent Valley reaching Emergency Warning status. Hundreds of properties were destroyed, with several thousand hectares of land burnt, and thousands of people left without power.

The Forcett fire was the most damaging, destroying several properties in Dunalley, including the local primary school, RSL club, service station and many homes. The Arthur Highway was closed at Dunalley from mid-morning, cutting off road access to the Tasman Peninsula, with hundreds of people evacuated from the area. Overall, over 25 000 ha were burnt in the Forcett fire, with close to 200 properties and 21 businesses destroyed, and road access to the Tasman Peninsula closed for more than a week.

Dry conditions continue

January rainfall was below average in most areas, continuing the dry conditions seen since October 2012. Some other sites had their lowest total January rainfall for at least 20 years.

The first half of the month was especially dry, but the passage of a few cold fronts in the second half and a trough lingering off the east coast on the 26th and 27th helped raise monthly totals in many areas. Cold fronts on the 8th and 10th also produced daily falls of up to around 25 mm in the west and 15 mm in northern and central areas, but only small amounts in other areas. Another cold front crossed overnight on the 30th, delivering falls of up to 35 mm to the north and west, with 34.6 mm at Mount Read the wettest day of the month.

Mount Read was the wettest site overall with 228.0 mm, and Dennes Point the driest site with only 7.6 mm

Hot and dry in Hobart

Hobart observed its warmest day on record with 41.8 °C on 4 January, beating the previous record by 1 °C. This is the highest temperature recorded anywhere in southern Tasmania, and second only to Scamander's 42.2 °C record on 30 January 2009. Hobart's minimum temperature of 23.4 °C on the 4th was also its warmest January minimum on record. Following a warm start to the year, temperatures were generally much closer to average in the second half of the month. The coolest day was 18.1 °C on the 29th and the coldest morning 8.9 °C on the 2nd. Overall, maximum temperatures were 2.2 °C warmer than normal and minimum temperatures were 1.2 °C above normal.

Only 11.4 mm of rain was recorded in Hobart, well below the January average of 48 mm, and the driest January since 2009 when 10 mm was recorded. Although it rained on 9 days, just 2 days shy of average, daily totals were typically 1 mm or less. The wettest day of the month was the 26th when 5.8 mm was recorded. Hobart usually sees a wetter day in January.

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Extremes in January 2013
Hottest day 41.8 °C at Hobart (Ellerslie Road) on the 4th
Warmest days on average26.2 °C at Cressy Research Station
Coolest days on average14.3 °C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day5.3 °C at Mount Wellington on the 9th
Coldest night -1.5 °C at Mount Wellington on the 9th
Coolest nights on average 4.6 °C at Mount Wellington
Warmest nights on average 14.4 °C at Swan Island
Warmest night23.4 °C at Hobart (Ellerslie Road) on the 4th
Warmest on average overall18.9 °C at Friendly Beaches
Coolest on average overall9.5 °C at Mount Wellington
Wettest overall 228.0 mm at Mount Read
Driest overall7.6 mm at Dennes Point
Wettest day34.6 mm at Mount Read on the 31st
Highest wind gust137 km/h at Mount Wellington on the 3rd

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


Lowest total January rainfall for at least 20 years
Total rainfall
for January 2013 (mm)
Most recent January
at least this dry
Years since
drier
Average for
January
Lady Barron (Franklin Parade) 10.2 0.0 in 1960* 50 45.6
Pioneer (Main Road) 11.4 6.9 in 1968 45 51.2
Whitemark Post Office 9.2 3.6 in 1990 23 47.3
Deal Island 10.9 2.0 in 1990* 22 40.5
Flinders Island Airport 8.2 5.4 in 1990* 21 45.3

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a lower value has gone unreported.




Record highest January temperature
Highest temperature
in January 2013 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 41.8 on the 4th 40.8 on the 4th in 1976 126 21.7
Larapuna (Eddystone Point) 36.5 on the 4th 36.1 on the 16th in 1960 56 21.0
Hobart Airport 40.3 on the 4th 40.1 on the 3rd in 1991 55 22.5
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 40.3 on the 4th 39.5 on the 20th in 1973 53 23.9
Orford (Aubin Court) 38.8 on the 4th 38.7 on the 21st in 1997 45 22.0
Marrawah 33.2 on the 4th 33.0 on the 29th in 2009 42 20.1
Mount Wellington 29.5 on the 4th 29.2 on the 22nd in 2006 33 13.3
Strathgordon Village 34.8 on the 4th 34.5 on the 4th in 1976 32 19.2
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 40.0 on the 4th 39.5 on the 26th in 1994 27 21.7
Dover 39.6 on the 4th 39.0 on the 3rd in 1991 24 20.6
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 41.0 on the 4th 38.5 on the 21st in 1997 22 21.2
Maydena Post Office 37.3 on the 4th 37.2 on the 11th in 2010 21 22.1

Note that most of these January maximum temperatures records were also temperature records for any month:

Record highest temperature - for any month
Highest temperature
in 2013 (°C)
Previous annual
warmest
Years of
record
Annual
average
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 41.8 on 4 Jan 40.8 on 4 Jan 1976 128 16.9
Hobart Airport 40.3 on 4 Jan 40.1 on 3 Jan 1991 56 17.5
Larapuna (Eddystone Point) 36.5 on 4 Jan 36.1 on 16 Jan 1960 56 17.1
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 40.3 on 4 Jan 39.5 on 20 Jan 1973 53 17.7
Orford (Aubin Court) 38.8 on 4 Jan = 38.8 on 15 Feb 1982 46 17.6
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 40.0 on 4 Jan 39.5 on 26 Jan 1994 29 16.8
Dover 39.6 on 4 Jan 39.0 on 3 Jan 1991 24 16.4
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 41.0 on 4 Jan 38.5 on 21 Jan 1997 23 16.8
Maydena Post Office 37.3 on 4 Jan 37.2 on 11 Jan 2010 22 16.1



Record highest January mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for January 2013 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Bicheno (Council Depot) 23.3 23.2 in 2003 38 21.4




Record highest January daily minimum temperature
Highest daily minimum
temperature
in January 2013 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 23.4 on the 4th 22.9 on the 10th in 1887 126 11.9
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 20.4 on the 4th 20.0 on the 16th in 1960 57 11.4
Hobart Airport 21.8 on the 4th 21.2 on the 3rd in 2012 55 12.0
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 20.5 on the 4th 18.5 on the 17th in 2007 27 9.9



Summary statistics for January 2013
Maximum temperatures
for January
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for January
(°C)
Rainfall
for January
(millimetres)
Mean for
January
2013
Diff
from
average
Highest for
January
2013
Mean for
January
2013
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
January
2013
Total for
January
2013
Average
for
January
Rank of
January
2013
Fraction of
January
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport (Sea View Villas) 21.8 0.0 28.5 4th 11.6 -1.5 4.3 9th 10.6 53.9 low 20%
Burnie (Round Hill) 22.7 +1.7 31.4 5th 12.4 -0.2 5.6 9th 21.2 44.3 low 48%
Cape Grim 19.1   30.0 4th 13.3   9.3 9th 21.2
Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 19.7 +0.9 29.9 4th 13.1 0.0 9.0 9th 21.0 36.4 low 58%
Cressy Research Station 26.2 +1.1 36.4 4th 9.9 -0.3 4.8 14th 22.0 31.0 average 71%
Devonport Airport 21.9 +0.6 26.4 8th 11.5 -0.7 5.0 14th 15.0 42.3 low 35%
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 25.2 +0.9 33.7 4th 12.0 -0.3 6.8 14th 14.8 45.0 v low 33%
Launceston Airport 25.1   34.3 4th 10.4   3.5 19th 16.4
Low Head 20.4 +0.1 24.9 4th 13.7 -0.6 9.2 14th 17.2 48.8 low 35%
Luncheon Hill (Forestry) 21.2 +0.2 33.5 4th 10.0 -0.5 5.1 9th 55.4 79.1 average 70%
Marrawah 20.8 +0.7 33.2 4th 12.2 +0.3 8.5 28th 34.4 49.0 low 70%
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 23.6 +0.7 34.1 4th 10.1 -0.7 2.8 9th 12.8 57.0 v low 22%
Sheffield School Farm 22.1 +0.2 31.2 4th 9.8 -0.9 4.6 14th
Smithton Aerodrome 22.0 +0.5 28.9 4th 9.3 -1.9 3.0 15th 22.4 41.5 average 54%
Wynyard Airport 22.4 +1.1 29.9 5th 10.1 -0.9 4.3 14th 24.0 44.0 average 55%
East Coast (district 92)
Bicheno (Council Depot) 23.3 +1.9 38.1 4th 13.3 +0.4 8.0 2nd 22.5 53.0 average 42%
Fingal (Legge Street) 25.6 +2.2 38.1 4th 9.6 -0.7 4.0 10th 29.2 43.7 average 67%
Friendly Beaches 24.6 +1.7 40.0 4th 13.1 -0.1 8.1 2nd 32.0 57.1 average 56%
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 20.7 +1.4 32.1 4th 8.7 +0.4 4.1 9th 36.8 54.5 average 68%
Larapuna (Eddystone Point) 24.0 +3.0 36.5 4th 13.5 -0.1 7.9 9th 35.4 45.4 average 78%
Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 22.2   35.2 4th 13.2   9.4 9th 25.4
Orford (Aubin Court) 23.3 +1.3 38.8 4th 12.7 +0.9 8.2 9th 27.8 48.4 low 57%
Scamander 23.6 +1.5 38.5 4th 13.2 +0.5 8.5 14th 25.4 55.3 low 46%
St Helens Aerodrome 24.0 +1.4 36.5 4th 12.9 -0.3 8.3 9th 19.6 50.7 v low 39%
Swan Island 21.3 +0.5 29.4 4th 14.4 -0.4 8.9 2nd 9.8 45.9 low 21%
Swansea (Francis Street) 24.7   39.6 4th 12.3   6.8 2nd 16.2
Midlands (district 93)
Ross (The Boulevards) 25.3 +0.9 36.3 4th 10.3 -0.3 3.7 14th 24.0 45.2 low 53%
Southeast (district 94)
Bull Bay (Lauriston) 22.4 +1.2 41.0 4th 12.4 +0.2 8.0 9th 11.2 49.3 v low 23%
Campania (Kincora) 25.5 +1.3 41.1 4th 11.7 +0.4 6.6 23rd 18.6 37.2 average 50%
Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 20.3 +0.6 38.0 4th 11.9 -0.2 7.5 9th 27.2 44.7 average 61%
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 19.7 +1.4 37.2 4th 12.2 +0.8 5.0 9th 30.2 62.1 low 49%
Dennes Point 22.6   40.5 4th 12.9   8.7 9th 7.6
Dover 22.0 +1.4 39.6 4th 10.0 -0.2 4.2 26th 23.2 52.8 low 44%
Dunalley (Stroud Point) 22.5   34.4 3rd 13.5   9.9 9th 16.0
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 22.7 +1.0 40.0 4th 11.0 +1.1 4.9 26th 20.4 56.0 low 36%
Grove (Research Station) 24.2   40.9 4th 9.3   2.5 15th 11.0
Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 23.9 +2.2 41.8 4th 13.1 +1.2 8.9 2nd 11.4 47.3 low 24%
Hobart Airport 24.0 +1.5 40.3 4th 12.3 +0.3 6.9 23rd 18.8 40.2 low 47%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 16.8 -0.2 30.6 4th 11.2 +0.5 6.6 9th 72.8 79.5 average 92%
Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 24.2 +0.3 39.2 4th 10.2 -0.2 4.8 23rd 18.8 31.0 average 61%
Mount Wellington 14.3 +1.0 29.5 4th 4.6 -0.1 -1.5 9th 25.4 84.7 low 30%
Tasman Island 18.9 +1.0 37.7 4th 11.0 -0.4 5.9 10th 64.6 75.3 average 86%
Tunnack Fire Station 22.7 +1.1 36.3 4th 8.4 -0.5 0.0 23rd 33.4 44.3 average 75%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 25.4 +1.5 40.3 4th 10.3 +0.2 4.2 15th 11.6 40.8 v low 28%
Maydena Post Office 21.8 -0.3 37.3 4th 8.4 -0.6 3.1 15th 35.4 60.0 low 59%
Ouse Fire Station 25.3 -0.1 39.9 4th 10.3 +0.2 4.5 28th 19.4 26.4 average 73%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Butlers Gorge 18.8 0.0 32.3 4th 6.5 +0.1 -0.1 28th 57.4 96.2 low 60%
Lake St Clair National Park 19.2 -0.1 32.8 4th 6.4 +0.1 0.5 28th 77.0 100.7 average 76%
Liawenee 19.2 +0.5 30.6 4th 5.0 -0.3 -0.4 23rd 28.0 47.9 low 58%
West Coast (district 97)
Cape Sorell 19.9 +1.7 27.3 4th 12.6 +0.8 7.5 9th 58.8 69.4 average 85%
Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 16.5 -1.3 33.6 4th 6.5 -0.6 0.4 9th 33.4 64.2 average 52%
Low Rocky Point 19.1   32.5 4th 11.6   8.4 9th 97.6 82.9 average 118%
Scotts Peak Dam 20.7 +0.1 35.1 4th 9.1 -0.2 4.1 9th 97.2 104.9 average 93%
Strahan Aerodrome 20.7 0.0 35.3 4th 10.4 -0.3 6.6 14th 82.6 85.8 average 96%
Strathgordon Village 19.6 +0.4 34.8 4th 9.9 +0.4 5.4 9th 133.7 145.8 average 92%
Warra 19.3   35.7 4th 8.0   2.6 26th 89.2
King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 21.7 +1.0 37.8 4th 12.1 -0.3 5.3 15th 11.4 38.6 v low 30%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 23.1 +1.0 38.6 4th 13.6 +0.3 7.3 28th 8.2 45.3 v low 18%
Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 8.9 +0.1 11.2 10th 5.1 -0.2 3.0 12th 106.6 85.0 high 125%

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 February 2013. 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.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is being used for temperature area averages from December 2012 onwards. The major change from earlier datasets is that the ACORN-SAT dataset commences in 1910, rather than 1950, and hence rankings are calculated using a larger set of years.

Further information

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(03) 9669 4057
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