Australia in summer 2016–17

In Brief

  • Warmer than average across eastern Australia
  • Cooler than average across the northwest
  • Record-warm days and nights for southern Queensland and northern to eastern New South Wales
  • Drier than average for the much of the eastern mainland
  • Above average rainfall across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia
  • Heavy rainfall and flooding in southwest Western Australia during late January and early February
  • Very heavy rainfall in late December across the Kimberley, Central Australia, and the southeast, associated with tropical systems

Temperatures

Overall, mean temperatures for Australia were above average for summer, with an anomaly of +0.61 °C. Mean minimum temperatures were very much above average (+0.82 °C), coming in as equal-fifth warmest on record for summer. Mean maximum temperatures were also above average, with an anomaly of +0.39 °C). However, this masks a geographical split between very much warmer than average days and nights for much of eastern Australia, and cooler than average days for the northwestern half of Australia. For New South Wales both the mean maximum and overall mean temperature were the warmest on record for summer, while the mean minimum temperature was the second warmest on record for summer. In Queensland the mean temperature and mean minimum temperature were the second warmest on record for summer, and the mean maximum temperature was the fifth warmest on record. South Australia also experienced warm nights, with minima coming in at fifth warmest on record for the season.

Maximum temperatures for summer were above to very much above average for most of Victoria, all of New South Wales, the northeastern half of South Australia, the southern two thirds of Queensland, and also for most of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, east coast Tasmania, and scattered areas of the coast around the top of the Great Australian Bight. Maxima were the highest on record for most of southern Queensland and central to eastern northern New South Wales. Seasonal mean minimum temperatures were also above to very much above average for most of eastern Australia, covering eastern Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and also for most of South Australia and adjacent southeastern Western Australia, the south of the Northern Territory, and areas of the western Top End, the northwest coast of Western Australia between Derby and south of Learmonth, and an area around the western Gascoyne. Minima were highest of record for summer for much of southern Queensland and much of northern and eastern New South Wales.

The warmth in New South Wales and Queensland has been persistent across the season. High daily temperature records were set at a number of stations as well as numerous records for runs of consecutive warm days or total number of days for the month or the season above temperature thresholds (such as number of days reaching at least 30 °C). The circumstances of the prolonged warmth and records set are further discussed in Special Climate Statement Exceptional heat in southeast Australia in early 2017.

The tropical system which brought heavy rainfall to much of the country in late December also saw the highly unusual penetration of a very tropical airmass far into the southeast of the continent, bringing warm temperatures, particularly high overnight minima, and exceptional high humidity to much of the southeast - see Special Climate Statement humidity, heavy rain and heat in central and southern Australia for more detail.

Maximum temperatures for summer were below to very much below average in Queensland's Gulf Country and across most of the Northern Territory except the Top End and the far southeast, across most of Western Australia except for much of the Gascoyne and adjacent interior, the far southwest and the Eucla district. Day time temperatures were cooler than average in all months of summer, although were most pronounced in January. Minimum temperatures were mostly near average for Western Australia during summer, although they were cooler than average in much of South West Western Australia. Cool nights in this region were mostly a result of cool anomalies for December and January, with days also very much cooler than average in this region during February. Unusual rainfall and cloud during late January and early February in the southwest also resulted in below average temperatures, with a number of record-low daily maximum temperatures. Both temperature and rainfall records are discussed in a Special Climate Statement heavy rainfall and flooding in southwest Western Australia.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 107)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 107)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 80 +0.39 = 102 +0.82 equal 5th highest 96 +0.61
Queensland 103 +1.52 5th highest 106 +1.58 2nd highest (record +1.88 °C in 2006) 106 +1.55 2nd highest (record +2.07 °C in 2006)
New South Wales 107 +3.01 highest (was +2.96 °C in 1939) 106 +2.12 2nd highest (record +2.25 °C in 1981) 107 +2.57 highest (was +2.44 °C in 2006)
Victoria 91 +1.13 79 +0.60 90 +0.87
Tasmania 55 −0.03 68 +0.09 62 +0.03
South Australia 89 +1.06 103 +1.33 5th highest; highest since 2006 95 +1.20
Western Australia 18 −0.79 65 −0.02 34 −0.40
Northern Territory = 24 −1.09 81 +0.30 38 −0.39

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
MeanAnomalyDeciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of mean daily maximum temperature Map of mean daily maximum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily maximum temperature deciles
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of mean daily minimum temperature Map of mean daily minimum temperature anomalies Map of mean daily minimum temperature deciles
Mean
daily
temperatures
Map of mean daily temperature Map of mean daily temperature anomalies Map of mean daily temperature deciles

Rainfall

Rainfall for summer 2016–17 was the fourth highest on record for Australia as a whole, and was 49% above average for the season. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia observed above to very much above average rainfall, with areas of highest on record summer rainfall reported in the Kimberley in Western Australia and parts of the adjacent northern Interior district, with smaller pockets also in the west of the Northern Territory and in Western Australia's southern districts, including the Lower West, Central Wheat Belt, and extending into the inland Western Australia – South Australia border region. Rainfall for Western Australia as a whole was the highest on record for summer, while the Northern Territory observed its third-wettest summer on record, and South Australia its sixth-wettest.

Above average rainfall extended along the western margin of the eastern mainland States, with the western half of those States generally observing near average rainfall for the season, and below average rainfall extending across the eastern halves of Queensland and New South Wales, the New South Wales Riverina, and East and South Gippsland in Victoria. Rainfall for the season was in the lowest 10% of historical observations (decile 1) for much of Gippsland, an area of eastern Queensland between Noosa and Mackay, as well as other isolated pockets along the east of Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.

This pattern of above average rainfall in the west and below average rainfall in the east has been fairly consistent throughout the season. Rainfall has been below average in parts of the southern east coast of Queensland and, to a lesser extent, parts of east coast New South Wales for several months. These emerging rainfall deficiencies will be discussed in the forthcoming Drought Statement, to be released within the next week.

December rainfall was very much above average along a broad swathe of the country extending from the northwest to South Australia and the west of New South Wales and below average rainfall along the east coast of Queensland and northern New South Wales; January rainfall was above average across the western two thirds of the country and western half of Queensland, but below average for the east of Victoria and southern coast of New South Wales; and February rainfall was above average for Western Australia, the north of the Northern Territory, and parts of southern South Australia, but below average for most of New South Wales, the southern two thirds of Queensland and northeastern South Australia.

A tropical low combined with the remnants of tropical cyclone Yvette brought very heavy rain over a broad area of Australia at the end of December, extending from the Kimberley in northern Western Australia, through Central Australia and most of South Australia, and into Victoria, with flash flooding affecting parts of the southeast including metropolitan Melbourne. The details of rainfall records, temperature records, and humidity records associate with the event may be found in the Special Climate Statement humidity, heavy rain and heat in central and southern Australia.

Exceptionally heavy rain again affected Western Australia in late January and early February, with severe flooding and infrastructure damage in parts of the South West Land Division and two recorded deaths. Flooding also occurred in the north of the State and the north of the Northern Territory during February, while tropical cyclone Alfred brought damaging winds and some flooding around the Gulf of Carpentaria.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 117)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 114 311.4 +49% 4th highest (record 419.8 mm in 1974)
Queensland 41 286.3 −12%
New South Wales 26 113.1 −34%
Victoria 53 111.3 −7%
Tasmania 47 233.2 −4%
South Australia 112 143.7 +132% 6th highest
Western Australia 117 339.8 +128% highest (was 306.8 mm in 2011)
Northern Territory 115 579.2 +83% 3rd highest (record 630.6 mm in 1974)
Murray-Darling Basin 29 104.6 −28%

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
TotalsPercentagesDeciles
Total
rainfall
Map of total rainfall Map of percentage of normal rain Map of rainfall deciles


Australian weather extremes in summer 2016–17
Hottest day 48.2 °C    at Tarcoola Aero (SA) on 9 February
Coldest day 3.2 °C    at kunanyi (Mount Wellington Pinacle) (Tas.) on 13 February
Coldest night −3.7 °C    at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on 18 December
Warmest night 34.2 °C    at White Cliffs AWS (NSW) on 11 February
Wettest day 351.0 mm at Tung Oil Alert (Qld.) on 9 January


Notes

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 Wednesday 1 March 2017. 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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