Australia in winter 2020

In Brief

  • Nationally, Australia's sixth-warmest winter on record; and the warmest winter on record for Western Australia
  • Mean maximum temperature warmer than average for most of the country, but near-average for much of the inland south-eastern mainland
  • Mean minimum temperature warmer than average for the west, north, and east coast; but cooler than average for eastern South Australia, western New South Wales and western Victoria
  • A drier than average winter for Australia as a whole
  • Rainfall for the season was below average for much of southern Australia but wetter than average for Gippsland and south-east New South Wales
  • While large areas have received above average rainfall in one or more months this year, longer-term rainfall deficits still persist in many parts of Australia

Temperatures

Winter was the sixth-warmest on record for Australia, with the mean temperature 1.15 °C above average. The national mean maximum temperature was the third-warmest on record for August at 1.60 °C above average, while the mean minimum temperature was 0.70 °C warmer than average.

The mean temperature for winter was the warmest on record for Western Australia and tenth-warmest on record for the Northern Territory.

The mean maximum temperature for the season was very much above average across nearly all of Western Australia and most of the Northern Territory; and above or very much above average across pastoral South Australia, Queensland, eastern and northern New South Wales, most of Victoria away from the west and north, and most of Tasmania. Maxima for the season were the highest on record for a large area of north-western to central Western Australia, and parts of the far northern tropics.

A number of stations in Western Australia observed their highest winter mean maximum temperature or highest winter mean temperature. Warm temperatures in late August had seen a large number of stations in Western Australia observe record high temperatures for winter during the last week of the month.

The mean minimum temperature for winter was above average for most of Western Australia south of the Kimberley; western South Australia; most of the northern half of the Northern Territory and the northern half of Queensland; south-west and east coast Queensland; eastern New South Wales and far eastern and north-eastern Victoria; and around the coast of northern and eastern Tasmania. Minima for the season were below or very much below average for parts of the southern Northern Territory; most of the eastern half of South Australia; western and south-western New South Wales; and western and central northern Victoria.

Despite being a very warm winter overall, there were a scattering of record-cool days or nights. During the first week of August a significant cold outbreak affected much of southern Australia. Some stations observed their lowest winter maximum temperature on record in South Australia, or lowest winter minimum temperature on record in both South Australia and Tasmania. That included −14.2 °C at Liawenee on 7 August, a new annual low temperature record for Tasmania.


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 109 +1.60 3rd highest (record +1.96 °C in 2017) 96 +0.70 106 +1.15 6th highest
Queensland 105 +1.42 7th highest 98 +1.34 99 +1.38
New South Wales 80 +0.58 88 +0.59 90 +0.59
Victoria = 75 +0.27 49 −0.11 65 +0.08
Tasmania 86 +0.30 57 +0.05 73 +0.18
South Australia 101 +1.15 44 −0.31 86 +0.42
Western Australia 111 +2.38 highest (was +2.02 °C in 2017) 101 +0.81 111 +1.60 highest (was +1.42 °C in 1996)
Northern Territory 107 +1.62 5th highest = 82 +0.66 102 +1.14 10th highest

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 winter was 31% below average for Australia as a whole.

Rainfall for the season was below to very much below average for most of Western Australia; the Northern Territory; southern South Australia; most of Victoria; northern and western Tasmania; and areas through Queensland mostly away from the coast and the west.

Rainfall for winter was above average for south-east Tasmania and in an area extending from far eastern Victoria through south-east New South Wales into parts of the Central West Slopes and Plains and Hunter districts. Rainfall for the season was also above average for an area of south-west Queensland.

While August has been wetter than average for some areas, particularly the interior of the continent and south coast Western Australia, June and July were drier than average or very much drier than average, and long-term rainfall deficits persist. June was exceptionally dry - nationally, rainfall was the third lowest on record for June. Long-term rainfall trends have seen April-October rainfall has declined by 15 to 20% over southern Australia since the 1970's, meaning average rainfall in the south is now less than in the previous century. Climate models indicate that southern Australian rainfall decline is consistent with the climate response to increased greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere.

Heavy rainfall in southeast Tasmania on 23 June brought daily rainfall records for winter to some areas, with river rises resulting in rivulets around Hobart.

Low pressure systems off the east coast of Australia brought several periods of very heavy rainfall to eastern New South Wales during winter, including some daily rainfall records for winter in late July and early August.

A cold front and low pressure system crossed the south of Western Australia early in August, bringing daily rainfall records for some stations on the south coast.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 121)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 16 43.5 −31%
Queensland 39 31.6 −36%
New South Wales = 66 117.6 +5%
Victoria 22 155.9 −24%
Tasmania 13 307.9 −28%
South Australia 26 37.4 −32%
Western Australia 8 33.8 −46% 8th lowest; lowest since 2006
Northern Territory 29 3.8 −77%
Murray-Darling Basin 40 91.8 −15%

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 winter 2020
Hottest day 41.2 °C    at West Roebuck (WA) on 23 August
Coldest day −5.1 °C    at Thredbo AWS (NSW) on 22 August
Coldest night −14.2 °C    at Liawenee (Tas) on 7 August
Warmest night 26.5 °C    at McCluer Island (NT) on 1 June
Wettest day 223.6 mm at Sanctuary Point (Salinas Street) (NSW) on 28 July


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 Tuesday 1 September 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.


Further information

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