Australia in autumn 2016

In Brief

  • Australia's warmest autumn on record
  • Highest on record temperatures throughout much of eastern and northern Australia
  • Average to below average temperatures in southern Western Australia
  • Prolonged March heatwave affected many parts of Australia
  • Rainfall close to average for Australia as a whole, but considerable regional variation

Autumn was very warm for most of Australia: southern Western Australia was the only part of the country where autumn temperatures tended to be average or below average. There were large areas of warmest on record covering eastern and northern Australia. Mean temperatures were more than three degrees warmer than average in some inland regions.

Autumn rainfall, when averaged across the country, was close to normal, however this hides considerable variation from State to State. Rainfall was above average in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, while Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory were drier than normal.


Temperatures

Autumn 2016 was Australia's warmest on record: the mean temperature was 1.86 °C above average while the previous warmest autumn was 1.64 °C above average in 2005. All States and Territories recorded mean temperatures that ranked in the top-five warmest autumns on record, with records set for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Terrtory. Mean temperatures were highest on record for almost all of the eastern mainland States, as well as northern and central parts of the Northern Territory, northwest Western Australia and southern Tasmania. In total, around half the country experienced its warmest autumn on record.

Maximum temperatures were highest on record in southern New South Wales across into northwest Victoria, eastern Victoria up through eastern New South Wales into a broad area of southern and central Queensland, parts of the central and northern Northern Territory, and patches of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia. Most of the rest of Australia had above average to very much above average maximum temperatures, except for an area of average to below average maximum temperatures in southwest Western Australia. The maximum temperature for the nation as a whole was the second-warmest autumn on record at 1.84 °C above average (the record is +2.17 °C in 2005).

Minimum temperatures in autumn were above average for virtually the whole of the country. Autumn minima were highest on record for large parts of Tasmania, southern Victoria, a broad area that extended from northwest New South Wales into northeast South Australia and up through western Queensland to Cape York Peninsula, parts of Northern Territory, and the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia. A total of almost 30% of the country recorded highest on record autumn minima, and much of the rest of Australia had minimum temperatures that were very much warmer than average.

The season began with a prolonged heatwave in March that included Australia observing its hottest March days on record, and many monthly records were also set in the first half of May, especially in northern Australia. Temperatures cooled in southern Australia in the second half of May, but warmer than average conditions extended through to the end of May in Australia's north. That warmth into late May resulted in an Australian late-season record when 38.0 °C was recorded at Bradshaw (Northern Territory) and Wyndham (Western Australia) on 27 May (that is, no Australian site has recorded a higher temperature later in the year to 30 June).

More details about the autumn warmth can be found in Special Climate Statement 56: Australia's warmest autumn on record.


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 106 +1.84 2nd highest (record +2.17 °C in 2005) 107 +1.87 highest (was +1.20 °C in 1992) 107 +1.86 highest (was +1.64 °C in 2005)
Queensland 107 +2.22 highest (was +1.83 °C in 2007) 107 +2.47 highest (was +1.88 °C in 1989) 107 +2.35 highest (was +1.60 °C in 2007)
New South Wales 107 +2.41 highest (was +2.10 °C in 1938) 106 +2.01 2nd highest (record +2.33 °C in 1989) 107 +2.21 highest (was +1.68 °C in 2007)
Victoria 107 +1.84 highest (was +1.55 °C in 2005) 106 +1.91 2nd highest (record +1.98 °C in 1974) 107 +1.88 highest (was +1.49 °C in 2007)
Tasmania 100 +0.92 8th highest 107 +1.26 highest (was +1.23 °C in 1956) 106 +1.10 2nd highest (record +1.14 °C in 2007)
South Australia 100 +1.41 8th highest 105 +1.71 3rd highest (record +1.86 °C in 2014) 103 +1.56 5th highest
Western Australia 103 +1.29 5th highest; highest since 2005 104 +1.41 4th highest (record +2.14 °C in 2005) 105 +1.35 3rd highest (record +2.25 °C in 2005)
Northern Territory 107 +2.40 highest (was +2.33 °C in 2005) 107 +2.02 highest (was +1.85 °C in 1992) 107 +2.21 highest (was +1.83 °C in 1958)

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

During autumn, Australia's area-averaged rainfall was close to normal. However, there was considerable regional variation. The largest area of very much above average rainfall was across most of the outback of South Australia, much of which fell in March, and there were also smaller areas of very much above average rainfall in western Queensland and southern Cape York Peninsula, the southwest Northern Territory, southwest Western Australia, and parts of western Tasmania. In contrast, autumn rainfall was very much below average in most of coastal New South Wales (locally driest on record in the Hunter Valley) and substantial parts of eastern Queensland south of the tropics, as well as in parts of the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions in Western Australia. Autumn rainfall was generally near normal in Victoria and southeast South Australia, the tropical east coast of Queensland, and most of the northern half of the Northern Territory.

Autumn began with decent March rainfall in southwest Western Australia, most of South Australia and central parts of the continent into Queensland. April was generally drier than normal for most of Australia, but southwest Western Australia again received above average rainfall as did parts of outback New South Wales. Most of the autumn rainfall for Tasmania, inland New South Wales, and western and northern Victoria, fell during May as El Niño came to an end, with Tasmania having an especially wet month. May also brought above average rainfall to much of central and northern Australia during what would normally be the start of the northern dry season, resulting in near-normal autumn rainfall in the northern tropics after March and April were drier than average.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 117)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 78 121.2 +1%
Queensland 71 153.9 −6%
New South Wales 44 101.9 −29%
Victoria 67 146.8 −6%
Tasmania 94 405.9 +19%
South Australia 108 95.1 +69% 10th highest; highest since 1989
Western Australia 76 99.9 +11%
Northern Territory 69 131.9 −5%
Murray-Darling Basin 54 90.4 −24%

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 autumn 2016
Hottest day   47.0 °C at Mardie (WA) on 3 March
Coldest day   −2.5 °C at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 27 May
Coldest night   −9.7 °C at Cooma Airport on 30 May
Warmest night   32.3 °C at Carnegie (WA) on 2 March
Wettest day 274.0 mm at Hazelmere (Qld) on 22 May


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 June 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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