Australia in spring 2012

In Brief

Generally spring 2012 was rather warm across Australia, with most of the country experiencing above-normal daytime temperatures. For the nation as a whole, it was the second-warmest spring maximum temperature on record, with 65% of the country in the top 10% of records. Minimum temperatures were warmer than normal across large parts of western and southern Australia, and closer to normal across the northern and eastern regions.

Rainfall for spring was generally below average across much of southern and eastern Australia, and above average across parts of Western Australia.


Spring maximum temperatures across Australia were mostly warmer than normal. Averaged across the nation, maximum temperatures were 1.73 °C above normal, the second-warmest spring in 63 years. Both the NT and SA measured their warmest spring maximum temperature on record, with anomalies of +1.60 °C and +2.69 °C, respectively. All States ranked in their respective top ten warmest springs, with both WA and Tasmania experiencing their second-warmest spring, NSW its fifth, Queensland sixth, and Victoria equal-eighth.

Most of the country was more than 1 °C warmer than usual, with temperatures further north generally closer to normal. A broad area of the southern inland experienced temperatures more than 2 °C above normal, with isolated pockets more than 3 °C above normal over the SA-Queensland border and just north of the Great Australian Bight.

Minimum temperatures during spring were generally warmer than normal over large parts of western and southern Australia, with temperatures generally closer to normal across the remainder of the country. For Australia as a whole, minimum temperatures were 0.40 °C above normal, ranking as 44th out of 63 years. The only State to fall in the top/bottom 10 of their respective records was WA, recording its third-warmest night-time temperatures on record (anomaly of +1.00 °C). Despite experiencing a close to normal month, Queensland had its coolest over-night temperatures since 1994 (18 years).

Night-time temperatures more than 1 °C above normal were measured across the Pilbara, Gascoyne, and Interior Districts of WA, and extended from southeast WA to the SA-Queensland border. Isolated pockets more than 1 °C below normal were measured across parts of the northern tropics and eastern Australia, with the majority of the country within 1 °C of normal.

Towards the end of November, exceptional heat was experienced across central and southeastern Australia. During this event, many stations measured their warmest spring day on record. Notably, five sites in Victoria broke the existing State record, with Ouyen's 45.8 °C on the 29th the new Victorian highest spring temperature (previous record held by Mildura, with 44.5 °C on 17 November 1980). Overnight temperatures were also affected, with Oodnadatta breaking the highest SA minimum temperature on record (with 32.3 °C on the 29th of November). A Special Climate Statement will be released shortly on this event.

Areal average temperatures
  Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature
(out of 63)
Comment Rank
(out of 63)
Australia 62 +1.73 2nd highest; record is +1.82 (2006) 44 +0.40
Queensland 58 +1.24 23 −0.16 Lowest since 1994
New South Wales 59 +2.24 28.5 −0.04
Victoria 55.5 +1.44 39 +0.11
Tasmania 62 +1.28 2nd highest; record is +1.38 (2009) 48 +0.28
South Australia 63 +2.69 Highest on record; previous record +2.67 (2006) 53 +0.99
Western Australia 62 +1.64 2nd highest; record is +1.88 (2006) 61 +1.00 3rd highest; record is +1.70 (2006)
Northern Territory 63 +1.60 Highest on record; previous record +1.59 (2002) 31 −0.10

*Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average.
A fractional rank indicates that the value is tied for that rank.

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 for spring 2012 was mostly below average across most of Australia, with the exception of WA. Neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) conditions over the tropical Pacific were in place during spring, but remained on the warm side of neutral. A positive Indian Ocean Dipole was in place for much of the spring period, which generally results in below-normal rainfall across parts of southern, central and northern Australia, and this is evident in the rainfall pattern for spring.

Area-averaged rainfall for Australia was 51.6 mm (29% below normal), ranking as the 33rd-driest spring of 113 years. SA and Victoria were the only States to fall in the top/bottom ten of historical records, with SA measuring its third-driest spring on record (14.7 mm), and Victoria its tenth-driest. Only WA experienced above-average spring rainfall.

Below-normal rainfall was measured across much of eastern Australia, as well as SA and parts of the NT. Areas of decile 1 rainfall (lowest 10% of records) were broadly recorded across SA, northeast NSW and western and central Victoria. Small areas of decile 1 were also recorded elsewhere in NSW, Queensland and the NT. Above-normal rainfall was recorded across most of WA, with isolated areas of above-normal falls across the NT and Queensland as well.

Area-average rainfall
(out of 113)
from mean*
Australia 33 51.6 −29%
Queensland 26 48.9 −42%
New South Wales 16 66.0 −47%
Victoria 10 107.6 −41%
Tasmania 36 313.7 −14%
South Australia 3 14.7 −71% 3rd lowest;
record is 11.4 (1963)
Western Australia 87 49.0 +19%
Northern Territory 54 56.1 −17%
Murray-Darling Basin 11 57.6 −50%

*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 spring 2012
Hottest day 46.4 °C at Roebourne (WA) on the 15th of November
Coldest day −4.5 °C at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on the 29th of September
Coldest night −9.0 °C at Cooma Airport AWS (NSW) on the 2nd of September
Warmest night 32.3 °C at Oodnadatta Airport (SA) on the 29th of November
Wettest day 233.0 mm at Ulladulla AWS (NSW) on the 12th of October


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 noon EST on Monday 3 December 2012. 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

(03) 9669 4057


Service notice

Network problems on 8 January disrupted processing of observations, affecting some climate information. Missing data are being retrieved and will be processed into our systems over coming weeks.