Canberra in summer 2013-14: Hot, dry summer for Canberra

  • Third-warmest summer on record for mean maximum temperatures
  • Record-breaking numbers of days above 35 °C, 38 °C and 40 °C
  • Two record-breaking hot spells
  • Well below average rainfall; driest summer since 2002-03

Rainfall - Driest summer since 2002-3

Canberra Airport recorded 111.6 mm of rain during summer 2013-14, well below the historical average of 170.7 mm and the driest summer since 2002-03 (84.8 mm). Conditions were very dry during the first half of summer, associated with the persistence of high pressure over the continent and a lack of major rain events, with the fourth-driest December-January on record (28 mm). This was followed by above average rainfall during February, with surface troughs and storms producing substantial rainfall mid-month.

There were seventeen rain days during the season(average 22) but only five recorded at least 5 mm (average 9 days). Most of the rain fell between 16-20 February (73.2 mm), with falls on the 20th reaching 33.2 mm at the airport and 86.4 mm at Tuggeranong, causing flooding across the ACT. Thunderstorms also produced localised falls of 42 mm at Tharwa on 16 December, but little rainfall at the airport.

Temperature - Most hot days on record

The average maximum temperature at Canberra Airport during summer 2013-14 was 29.8 °C, 2.7 °C above the historical average. This is the third-warmest summer on record for Canberra, following 29.9 °C in the summers of 1990-91 and 2005-06. Temperatures were well above average during all three months, associated with the generally dry and sunny conditions and several significant heat events.

There were 43 days that reached at least 30 °C during the season, well above the average of 26 days and the most since 2006-07. Twenty of these days reached at least 35 °C, four times the historical average of 5 days and substantially higher than the previous record of 14 days in 2005-6. A record eleven days reached at least 38 °C (average 1 day; previous record 5 days in 2009-10) and three days reached at least 40 °C, among only 13 such days ever recorded at Canberra.

These temperatures included two exceptionally hot spells, with five consecutive days above 37 °C between 14 and 18 January and a further six consecutive days above 37 °C between 29 January and 3 February - such a spell has only been recorded once before, during the five days 6 to 10 January 1979.

The average minimum temperature during summer was 12.4 °C, close to the historical average of 12.5 °C. The mean temperature was consequently 21.1 °C, 1.3 °C above the historical average.

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Extremes in summer 2013-14
Hottest day 40.2 °C at Canberra Airport on 15 Jan 2014
Warmest days on average 29.8 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest days on average 20.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Coldest day 4.8 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 5 Dec 2013
Coldest night -2.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 6 Dec 2013
Coolest nights on average 8.9 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Warmest nights on average 13.2 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 20.6 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 23 Dec 2013
Warmest on average overall 21.4 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Coolest on average overall 14.9 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest overall 185.6 mm at Torrens (Darke St)
Wettest day 86.4 mm at Torrens (Darke St) on 20 Feb 2014
42.0 mm at Tharwa General Store on 16 Dec 2013
Highest wind gust 94 km/h at Mount Ginini AWS on 9 Dec 2013

Summary statistics for summer 2013-14
Maximum temperatures
for summer
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for summer
(°C)
Rainfall
for summer
(millimetres)
Mean for
summer
2013-14
Diff
from
average
Highest for
summer
2013-14
Mean for
summer
2013-14
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
summer
2013-14
Total for
summer
2013-14
Average
for
summer
Rank of
summer
2013-14
Fraction of
summer
average
Canberra Airport 29.8 +2.7 40.2 15 Jan 2014 12.4 -0.1 2.7 7 Dec 2013 111.6 170.7 low 65%
Mount Ginini AWS 20.8   31.1 18 Jan 2014 8.9   -2.5 6 Dec 2013 182.8
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 29.5   40.0 16 Jan 2014 13.2   3.2 7 Dec 2013 179.2

Notes

As of March 2010, the official station for Canberra is 70351 'Canberra Airport'. Averages from the previous site, 70014 Canberra Airport Comparison, are used for comparisons (all years of record).

A Seasonal Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Canberra 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 8 am on Monday 3 March 2014. 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 20 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries