Australian Capital Territory in summer 2019-20: hot and dry despite wet February

Summer 2019-20 was much hotter than average in the ACT. Rainfall was generally below average, despite a wet February.

Generally dry despite wet February

  • Rainfall in summer 2019-20 was below average at most ACT sites
  • December and January were much drier than average, but February was generally wet

A very warm summer

  • Both maximum and minimum temperatures were well above average, although lower than those recorded in summer 2018-19
  • Mean summer maximum and minimum temperatures at Canberra Airport were each the third-warmest on record. Summer 2018-19 holds the record in both cases
  • Overnight minimum temperatures were above average in all three months
  • Daytime maximum temperatures were at record high levels in December and above average in January, but near average in February
  • Some sites had their highest summer temperature on record
  • Some sites had their warmest summer night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record

Canberra Airport

  • Total rainfall for Canberra Airport was 97.2 mm, which is 57% of the long-term average of 171.7 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Canberra Airport was 30.4 °C, which is 3.1 °C above the long-term average of 27.3 °C. The warmest day was 44.0 °C on 4 January, and the coolest day was on 2 December when the temperature reached 15.1 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Canberra Airport was 14.5 °C, which is 1.9 °C above the long-term average of 12.6 °C. The coldest morning was 4.6 °C on 1 December, and the warmest morning was on 2 February when the minimum temperature was 26.7 °C

A summer of extremes

  • Extreme heat affected the ACT on multiple occasions.
  • 44.0 °C at Canberra Airport on 4 January was the highest temperature on record for the ACT, whilst the record high temperatures for December and February were also broken.
  • Canberra Airport had its hottest night on record with 26.7 °C on 2 February
  • Bushfires had major direct and indirect impacts on the ACT during the summer. Large fires in surrounding areas of New South Wales caused severe smoke pollution for much of December and January, whilst a fire in late January and early February burnt large areas of Namadgi National Park
  • One of the most severe hailstorms recorded in the ACT occurred on 20 January. Hail of 4 to 6 cm in diameter fell across a region extending from the southern half of Belconnen through Acton to the inner southern suburbs. Extensive damage was reported to buildings and motor vehicles

Further information

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Extremes in summer 2019-20
Hottest day 44.0 °C at Canberra Airport on 4 Jan 2020
Warmest days on average 30.4 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest days on average 20.9 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Coldest day 0.5 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 2 Dec 2019
Coldest night -2.3 °C at Mount Ginini AWS on 3 Dec 2019
Coolest nights on average 9.3 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Warmest nights on average 14.6 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS
Warmest night 26.7 °C at Canberra Airport on 2 Feb 2020
26.7 °C at Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS on 2 Feb 2020
Warmest on average overall 22.4 °C at Canberra Airport
Coolest on average overall 15.1 °C at Mount Ginini AWS
Wettest overall 310.6 mm at Mount Ginini AWS
Driest overall 97.2 mm at Canberra Airport
Wettest day 77.2 mm at Ginninderra (Charnwood (ACT)) on 10 Feb 2020
Strongest wind gust 117 km/h at Canberra Airport on 20 Jan 2020

Record highest summer temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 43.3 on 4 Jan 2020 41.1 on 10 Feb 2017 24 28.4



Record highest summer daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 26.7 on 2 Feb 2020 23.1 on 20 Dec 2017 24 13.7



Summary statistics for summer 2019-20
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
summer
2019-20
Diff
from
average
Highest for
summer
2019-20
Mean for
summer
2019-20
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
summer
2019-20
Total for
summer
2019-20
Average
for
summer
Rank of
summer
2019-20
Fraction of
summer
average
Canberra Airport 30.4 +3.1 44.0 4 Jan 2020 14.5 +1.9 4.6 1 Dec 2019 97.2 171.7 v low 57%
Mount Ginini AWS 20.9 +1.6 33.2 4 Jan 2020 9.3 +0.4 -2.3 3 Dec 2019 310.6 278.3 average 112%
Tuggeranong (Isabella Plains) AWS 29.9 +1.5 43.3 4 Jan 2020 14.6 +0.9 5.4 1 Dec 2019 157.2 195.7 average 80%
Note: Observations for “Canberra Airport” are taken from the current site (Bureau number 070351), which opened in late 2008.
Comparisons are made against data from the previous site Canberra Airport Comparison (070014), which ran from 1939 to 2010,
combined with the current site from March 2010 onwards.

Notes

The Seasonal climate summary, generally published on the first working day of each month, lists the main features of the weather in Australian Capital Territory using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. More extensive discussion of significant weather events, along with later information and data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

This summary includes data from observing sites in or near the Australian Capital Territory “Greater Capital City Statistical Area” (GCCSA). The Australian Bureau of Statistics designed the GCCSAs to “include the population within the urban area of the city, as well as people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, and live in small towns and rural areas surrounding the city. It is important to note that GCCSAs do not define the built up edge of the city. They provide a stable definition for these cities and are designed for the output of a range of social and economic survey data.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 9 am on Monday 2 March 2020. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

In some situations, some or all of the rainfall is in the form of hail or snow. In these cases the totals given are for the water equivalent: the depth of liquid water that results from melting any frozen precipitation. There can be significant 'undercatch' of snow in strong winds, meaning the true precipitation can be higher than that reported.

Averages for individual sites 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.

Where temperature area averages are mentioned, they are derived from the ACORN-SAT dataset.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries