Australia in spring 2020

In Brief

  • Nationally, Australia's warmest spring on record; and amongst the six warmest springs on record for all states and the Northern Territory
  • Mean maximum temperature and mean minimum temperature both warmer than average for virtually all of Australia
  • Spring rainfall slightly below average for Australia as a whole
  • Rainfall for the season was below average for much of eastern Queensland, north-eastern New South Wales, and western Tasmania
  • Rainfall for spring above average for northern Western Australia, much of South Australia, western New South Wales, and south-west Victoria
  • Longer-term rainfall deficits still persist in many parts of Australia

Temperatures

Spring 2020 was the warmest on record for Australia, coming in with a mean temperature 2.03 °C above average, well above the previous record (+1.81 °C in 2014). The national mean maximum temperature was the fifth-warmest on record at 2.14 °C above average, while the mean minimum temperature was the warmest on record at 1.91 °C warmer than average (previous record 1.46 °C in 1998).

The mean temperature for spring was amongst the six highest on record for spring for all of the states and the Northern Territory.

Both the mean maximum and mean minimum temperature for the season were very much above average (decile 10, the highest 10% of historical observations) across the majority of Australia. Some parts of the northern tropics were analysed as having had their warmest spring on record for mean maximum temperature, while mean minimum temperature for the season was the highest on record for spring for areas of the inland northern tropics, south-western Queensland, the eastern half of Victoria and far south-east New South Wales, and much of the western half of South Australia.

Periods of unusually warm weather affected parts of Australia several times during spring. A number of stations in Western Australia observed record-warm September daily maximum or daily minimum temperatures during the first half of the month. The season closed with a significant heatwave affecting much of south-eastern and eastern Australia at the end of November when very warm air was pushed from the middle of the continent by frontal systems combined with a heat trough over inland Australia.

A large number of stations in New South Wales and South Australia observed record high November daily maximum temperatures on the 28th or 29th, as did a few stations in Victoria, while Queensland saw records on the 30th. A large number of stations in New South Wales also observed their warmest November night on record during the same period.

A number of stations in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and Victoria observed their highest spring mean daily minimum temperature on record.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 111)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 111)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 111)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 107 +2.15 5th highest 111 +1.91 highest (was +1.46 °C in 1998) 111 +2.03 highest (was +1.81 °C in 2014)
Queensland = 107 +1.98 equal 4th highest (record +2.54 °C in 2013) = 110 +2.18 equal highest (with 2005) = 110 +2.08 equal highest (with 2013)
New South Wales 101 +2.47 110 +1.99 2nd highest (record +2.10 °C in 1914) 107 +2.23 5th highest
Victoria = 104 +2.01 equal 7th highest 111 +1.72 highest (was +1.49 °C in 2009) 109 +1.87 3rd highest (record +2.04 °C in 1914)
Tasmania = 104 +0.99 equal 7th highest 107 +0.77 5th highest; highest since 2009 106 +0.88 6th highest
South Australia 106 +2.47 6th highest 111 +2.04 highest (was +1.71 °C in 2015) 109 +2.26 3rd highest (record +2.35 °C in 2014)
Western Australia 108 +2.00 4th highest (record +3.09 °C in 2019) 109 +1.44 3rd highest (record +1.58 °C in 2006) 107 +1.72 5th highest
Northern Territory 111 +2.29 highest (was +2.10 °C in 2013) 111 +2.39 highest (was +2.28 °C in 2005) 111 +2.34 highest (was +1.87 °C in 2005)

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 111 (highest). A rank marked with ’=‘ indicates the value is tied for that rank. Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average.

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 110 (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 spring was 8% below average for Australia as a whole.

Rainfall for the season was below average for greater south-east Queensland, extending to the north tropical coast, and into north-eastern New South Wales. Rainfall for spring was also below average for western Tasmania.

Rainfall for spring was above average for much of the Kimberley and Pilbara in Western Australia, much of South Australia except the south-east, western New South Wales and adjacent far south-west Queensland, and scattered smaller areas in south-west Victoria, south-east New South Wales, and southern Western Australia.

September was a drier than average month for some areas in the south-east and south-west of Australia, but above average for much of the central third of the country and west of the eastern states. October was a much wetter month as the La Niña strengthened in the tropical Pacific Ocean, although monthly rainfall was still below average for south-west Western Australia. November was drier than average for much of the eastern two thirds of Australia, but wetter than average for large parts of Western Australia.

Typically La Niña would be associated with cooler, cloudier, and wetter than average conditions for Australia. During November the La Niña currently active in the Pacific Ocean weakened temporarily, and the Southern Annual Mode also briefly returned to neutral. This contributed to a reduction in cloud cover over Australia during the month, higher air pressure, and less rainfall than typical for a La Niña. Both La Niña and the Southern Annual Mode are expected to return to their October levels soon, and the climate outlooks expect cooler temperatures and more rainfall for summer 2020–21.

Climate change is also playing a role in the weather which Australia experiences. Long-term rainfall trends have seen April–October rainfall decline by around 16% over the southwest of Australia since 1970, and by around 12% in the southeast of Australia since the late 1990s. Australia's climate has also warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.

Heavy rain at times resulted in some daily rainfall records. Record high daily spring rainfall was observed at some stations in South Australia during September, New South Wales during October, and Western Australia during November.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 121)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 61 67.5 −6%
Queensland 44 60.6 −28%
New South Wales 68 121.4 −5%
Victoria 61 172.4 −5%
Tasmania 35 304.2 −14%
South Australia 98 70.4 +38%
Western Australia 76 40.1 +1%
Northern Territory 66 63.4 −5%
Murray-Darling Basin 55 103.7 −12%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 120 (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 spring 2020
Hottest day 48.0 °C    at Andamooka (SA) on 28 Novemberh
Coldest day −3.4 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 26 September
Coldest night −8.1 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 26 September
and Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on 1 September
Warmest night 33.8 °C    at Wanaaring (Delta AWS) (NSW) on 29 November
Wettest day 209.8 mm at Smiths Lake (Patsys Flat Road) (NSW) on 27 October


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 1:30 pm EDST on Tuesday 1 December 2020. 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. Temperature area averages are derived from the ACORN-SAT version 2 dataset. Rainfall area averages, along with rainfall and temperature maps, are derived from the AWAP dataset.


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