Australia in winter 2016

In Brief

  • Australia's 4th-warmest winter minimum temperatures; very much warmer than average over most of Australia
  • Highest on record maximum temperatures for the Top End and pockets of northern Western Australia
  • Both days and nights cooler than average for Southwest Western Australia
  • Several damaging East Coast Lows across the season
  • Rainfall above average for each month, 2nd-highest on record for winter for Australia as a whole


Winter 2016 was Australia's fourth-warmest on record for minimum temperatures and equal sixth-warmest for mean temperatures. The mean temperature was 0.91 °C above average while minima were 1.49 °C above average and maxima 0.32 °C above average. No State or the Northern Territory observed below average temperatures for either maxima or minima, and the Northern Territory and all States except South Australia ranked amongst the ten warmest on record for winter minimum temperatures. Increased cloud cover associated with the very wet winter, and very much warmer than average sea surface temperatures around much of Australia, helped maintain well above average minimum temperatures throughout the winter.

Minimum temperatures for winter were above average for nearly all of Australia, except the southwest and central south coast of Western Australia (minima were cooler than average over parts of this area). Minima were in decile 10 (the highest 10% of historical records) for more than 70% of the country, spanning most of the northern two thirds of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and adjacent northern South Australia, Queensland, nearly all of New South Wales and Victoria except a strip along the west of both States, and across Tasmania.

Maximum temperatures were highest on record for winter for much of the Top End in the Northern Territory and also for some parts of the coastal Kimberley in Western Australia. Maxima were in decile 10 (the highest 10% of historical records) for the remainder of the Kimberly, north of the Northern Territory, much of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and parts of coastal New South Wales and far eastern Victoria. Maxima were above average surrounding this area across northern Australia, along the eastern seaboard and southern central Victoria, part of southeastern South Australia, and all of Tasmania. Maxima were below average for much of the southern half of Western Australia and an area of the coastal Pilbara, and a large area spanning inland central Queensland and inland New South Wales.

The individual months of winter were also very warm and a number of daily or monthly records were set at locations around Australia. Notably, Kalumburu, in the far north of Western Australia, set an Australian record for warmest June average maximum, whilst numerous locations in northwestern Australia set daily records for warmest June day during the first week of the month. Records were also set for overnight temperatures, with record high monthly minima observed at locations in each of Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania. Conversely, some cool daily records for August maximum temperatures were set in Southwest Western Australia and a number of stations observed their coldest August mean temperatures for the month.

Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Australia 73 +0.32 104 +1.49 4th highest (record +1.92 °C in 1973) = 101 +0.91 equal 6th highest
Queensland 62 +0.10 106 +2.36 2nd highest (record +2.57 °C in 1973) 99 +1.23 9th highest
New South Wales 58 +0.12 = 106 +1.65 equal highest (with 1973) = 98 +0.89 equal 7th highest
Victoria = 77 +0.38 100 +0.91 8th highest 96 +0.65
Tasmania 89 +0.41 104 +1.06 4th highest (record +1.26 °C in 1926) = 96 +0.74 equal 10th highest
South Australia = 54 +0.15 96 +0.99 87 +0.57
Western Australia = 64 +0.27 101 +0.98 7th highest; highest since 1998 = 95 +0.63
Northern Territory 95 +0.95 101 +1.73 7th highest; highest since 1998 100 +1.34 8th highest

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 107 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. 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
Map of mean daily temperature Map of mean daily temperature anomalies Map of mean daily temperature deciles


Rainfall during winter 2016 was above average to very much above average across most of Australia. Rainfall was generally above average over most of Australia in each of the individual month, although the southern two thirds of Western Australia and much of southeastern Australia received near average or below average rainfall during August.

Nationally, it was Australia's second-wettest winter on record, with rainfall 82% above average for the season. Winter rainfall was in decile 10 (the highest 10% of historical records) for most of Queensland, except for the far north and southeast, most of New South Wales, except some areas of the west, a small area of northeastern Victoria, most of Tasmania, an area of the eastern Northern Territory and large parts of Western Australia in the inland north and between the Pilbara and South Australian border, extending into central Australia and across much of pastoral South Australia. Rainfall for the season was below average for an area of Southwest Western Australia, reflecting a long-term decline of cool season rainfall in the region since the 1970s.

Immediately prior to winter, May was also a wet month for much of Australia, although drier than average along the eastern seaboard and areas of Western Australia. Indeed, May to August was the wettest such period on record. Higher than average rainfall often occurs following the breakdown of strong El Niño events, and has further been enhanced by the strong negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) which has persisted since late May. The negative IOD has contributed to the number and strength of rain-bearing northwest cloudbands in recent months as warm moist air is fed into northwestern Australia from over warmer than average waters between northwestern Australia and Indonesia.

Several significant rainfall events occurred during winter, with associated flooding and property damage. The most significant was an East Coast Low in early June, which caused major flooding in Tasmania and in parts of coastal New South Wales. A Special Climate Statement was issued for the event. Less destructive flooding also occurred in some parts of Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania during July and again in Queensland during August.

Area-average rainfall
(of 117)
from mean
Australia 116 116.3 +82% 2nd highest (record 118.6 mm in 1978)
Queensland 116 139.4 +172% 2nd highest (record 147.1 mm in 1912)
New South Wales 115 214.2 +85% 3rd highest (record 249.8 mm in 1950)
Victoria 96 248.8 +22%
Tasmania 112 638.5 +46% 6th highest
South Australia 110 92.1 +66% 8th highest; highest since 2001
Western Australia 103 90.7 +49%
Northern Territory 106 43.3 +138%
Murray-Darling Basin 114 188.5 +70% 4th highest (record 224.1 mm in 1920)

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 117 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. Departure from mean is relative to the long-term (1961–1990) average.

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

Australian weather extremes in winter 2016
Hottest day 38.3 °C  at Kalumburu (WA) on 24 July
Coldest day −5.8 °C  at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 13 July
Coldest night −10.4 °C  at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 7 August
Warmest night 28.8 °C  at Troughton Island (WA) on 6 June
Wettest day 365.0 mm at Robertson (Caalong Street) (NSW) on 6 June


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. 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.

Climate Summaries are usually published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 1 pm EST on Thursday 1 September 2016. 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.

The system used for calculating areal averages of rainfall was changed in May 2009; the main effect was that current and historical values for Tasmania were increased. Since December 2012, ACORN-SAT has been used for calculating areal averages of temperature; the major change from earlier datasets is that the ACORN-SAT dataset commences in 1910, and hence rankings are calculated using a larger set of years.

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