Australia in Autumn (March-May) 2010

In Brief

Autumn 2010 was a generally warm and wet season in Australia. The most significant rainfall was in early March, causing widespread flooding in inland southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, but rainfall continued through the season in many areas, giving many parts of southeastern Australia their first autumn with above-normal rainfall since 2000. The season was also notable for severe hailstorms in Melbourne and Perth, with damage of several hundred million dollars in both cities. Temperatures were also mostly above normal, particularly at night, with Tasmania and Western Australia being especially warm.


Maximum temperatures averaged over Australia were 0.36C above normal, being mostly below normal in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and mostly above normal elsewhere. Tasmania and Western Australia were especially warm. Tasmania had its equal-highest autumn maximum temperatures on record, with anomalies of 1-2C throughout and site records set in the southeast. Most of Western Australia had maxima at least 1C above normal, reaching 2-3C in the inland Pilbara, and ranked in the highest decile; the only cooler areas were the southwest coast between Kalbarri and Esperance, and the north and east Kimberley. It was also 1C or more above normal on parts of the South Australian and Victorian coasts, as well as on the NT Top End coast and northern Cape York Peninsula, with all these areas locally reaching the highest decile.

Below-normal maxima covered most of Queensland and the Northern Territory, except for the NT Top End, Cape York Peninsula and the eastern coastal fringe of Queensland. Anomalies were mostly modest, only reaching −1C in a few areas east of Alice Springs and around Cunnamulla.

Minimum temperatures were generally above normal. Nationally they were 0.72C above average (11th highest on record) and ranked in the top ten in four states. The only significant areas which were cooler than normal, and those only slightly so, were in western Queensland south of Mount Isa (extending into the far northwest of NSW), and on parts of the west coast of Western Australia, especially around Perth.

Minima were 1C or more above normal in many inland and northern areas, including the eastern half of Western Australia, the northern half of the Northern Territory, much of northern South Australia, and the Queensland Gulf coast and parts of Cape York Peninsula. Peak anomalies of around +2C occurred in the western Top End and the WA interior. Much of this area was in the highest decile, with records set in the western Top End. Most of Victoria and Tasmania were also in the highest decile, except for the Wimmera (Victoria) and central midlands (Tasmania), with anomalies mostly around +1C.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 61)
Comment Rank
(out of 61)
Australia 37 +0.36 51 +0.72
Queensland 21 −0.25 40 +0.21
New South Wales 43 +0.42 40 +0.17
Victoria 54+0.86 53 +0.75
Tasmania 60.5 +1.42 Equal highest on record (with 1988) 56 +0.73
South Australia 40 +0.41 57 +1.21
Western Australia 56 +1.10 58 +1.09
Northern Territory 19 −0.46 48 +0.68

*Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961-1990) average.

Temperature maps
Map of mean daily maximum temperature Map of mean daily maximum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily maximum temperature deciles
Map of mean daily minimum temperature Map of mean daily minimum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily minimum temperature deciles


Rainfall averaged nationally was 11% above the long-term average, with above-normal falls covering large parts of the eastern two-thirds of the country, especially in the southern tropics and subtropics. The most significant areas of above-normal rainfall were in inland southern Queensland. A large band extending across that states south, extending east to Goondiwindi and west into the far southeast of the Northern Territory and northeast of South Australia, was in the highest decile, with records set locally in the far southwest of Queensland. Much of this rain fell in the first few days of March, causing severe flooding. Other areas which experienced rainfall in the highest decile were the Gulf of Carpentaria coast of the Northern Territory and Queensland (especially in areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Paul at the end of March), the southwestern Northern Territory, and patches scattered through northern Victoria, southern inland New South Wales, and outback South Australia, especially in the Woomera-Leigh Creek-Hawker region.

The most substantial areas with below-normal rainfall were in Western Australia, covering most of the state except for eastern border areas, and scattered patches in the west Kimberley and around Esperance. Rainfall was in the lowest decile along most of the coast and adjacent inland between Geraldton and Onslow, as well as in parts of the southwest, especially near the coast. Other areas with below-normal rainfall were Tasmania (except parts of the northeast), the southeast coast extending from Mount Gambier through Victoria and NSW to Brisbane, most Queensland areas north of Townsville except for the Gulf Country and around Cooktown, the western NT Top End, and scattered areas in South Australia, especially in the south. Only a few of these areas, mostly around Hobart and on Queenslands Atherton Tableland, reached the lowest decile.

Areal average rainfall
(out of 111)
from mean*
Australia 86 133.7 +11%
Queensland 91 196.3 +20%
New South Wales 83 141.7 −1% Highest since 2000
Victoria 80 167.0 +7% Highest since 1995
Tasmania 44 312.6 −8%
South Australia 95 74.3 +32%
Western Australia 48 78.1 −13%
Northern Territory 92 181.9 +31%
Murray-Darling Basin 90 152.4 +28% Highest since 2000

*The mean is calculated for the 1961-1990 reference period.

Rainfall maps
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles

Australian weather extremes in autumn 2010
Hottest day 45.0 °C at Roebourne (WA) on 28 March
Coldest day −1.5 °C at Mount Baw Baw (Vic) on 11 May
Coldest night −10.2 °C at Liawenee (Tas) on 22 May
Warmest night 31.7 °C at Marble Bar (WA) on 31 March
Wettest day 442.8 mm at Bulman (NT) on 31 March


The Seasonal Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Australia using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 12 pm on Tuesday 1 June 2010. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available, especially for rainfall where much more data becomes available as returns are received from volunteers.

Long-term averages in this statement and associated tables are for the period 1961 to 1990 unless otherwise specified.

In the tables, fractional ranks denote tied values.

A new area-averaging method was adopted for rainfall in May 2009. Current and historical totals for Tasmania are substantially higher than under the old scheme, but differences for other states, and nationally, are negligible. The rankings and departures from mean shown here use the new method.

Further information

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