Australia in winter 2021

In Brief

  • The national mean temperature for winter was 1.18 °C above the 1961–1990 average, the fourth-warmest on record after 1996, 2009 and 2013.
  • It was the second-warmest winter, after 1988, for Tasmania, and in the ten warmest winters for every state and territory except Western Australia.
  • The mean maximum temperature was 1.27 °C above average, the seventh-highest on record; warmth was especially pronounced in the tropics with Queensland and the Northern Territory both ranking in the top five.
  • The mean minimum temperature was 1.08 °C above average, the ninth-highest on record; the most pronounced warmth was in the northern tropics, and in Tasmania and Victoria.
  • Rainfall for winter was 4% below the 1961–1990 average, but was still the highest since 2016.
  • Winter rainfall was close to average in many areas with few locations either very much above or very much below average.

Temperatures

The national mean temperature for winter was 1.18 °C above average for Australia as a whole, the fourth-warmest on record.

The mean maximum temperature for Australia as a whole was 1.27 °C above average, and the mean minimum temperature was 1.08 °C above average. Both of these ranked in the ten warmest winters since national records began in 1910. Minimum temperatures were above average in all three winter months, while maximum temperatures were near average in June and well above average in July and August.

Maximum temperatures were above average over almost all of the country, except for a few small areas in southern Western Australia and on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. The most pronounced warmth was in the northern tropics, where maximum temperatures were generally about 2 °C above average. Some areas had their warmest average winter maximum on record, particularly in the Top End of the Northern Territory (including Darwin, Jabiru and Gove) and Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Maximum temperatures were at least 1 °C above average over most of Queensland, the Northern Territory and tropical Western Australia, as well as the far north of South Australia. They were relatively close to average in most of inland New South Wales, and Western Australia south of the tropics. June was cold in southern Western Australia, with many locations having their coldest average June maximum temperatures for 20 years or more.

Minimum temperatures were also above average over most of Australia, although not as consistently as for maximum temperatures, with localised areas below average in most states and territories. The largest anomalies were in the northern half of Queensland, with parts of the region more than 2 °C above average and some records set, particularly around the Gulf of Carpentaria. Another notably warm area was Tasmania, which was generally 1 to 2 °C above average, with records on parts of the north coast. The most significant areas where minimum temperatures were near or below average were in the southern Northern Territory and north-western New South Wales.

Very cold conditions occurred in New South Wales on 10 June, associated with an intense low off the east coast which also brought heavy rain and severe winds to Victoria. Sydney (Observatory Hill) had a maximum of 10.3  °C, its lowest in any month since 1984 and in June since 1899, while in western Sydney it was the coldest day since 1957 with records at some shorter-term sites. A number of locations in central and northern inland New South Wales also had their coldest winter day on record. There were very heavy snow accumulations, of 30 centimetres or more, at elevations above 1200 metres at Mount Kaputar near Narrabri and at Niangala east of Tamworth, the heaviest falls in these areas since 1984. Some records were also set in southern Western Australia on 21 June in association with a rain event there.

Persistent westerly to south-westerly flow over south-eastern Australia brought a prolonged period of cold from 17 to 25 July. The most significant cold was in the Adelaide region on the 22nd, when a number of sites had their coldest day on record, and Adelaide itself (9.1 °C) had its coldest day since 1986. Canberra, which had earlier had its coldest day since 2009 (6.3  °C) on the 6th in persistent fog and low cloud, had five days below 10 °C between the 17th and the 25th, contributing to a seasonal total of 11 days, the most since 2007 (although still below average). Regular alpine snowfalls brought Spencers Creek its highest July snow depth since 2000.

The winter was persistently warm in the tropics but the most significant warm spell occurred in the last week of July, extending south-east as far as north-western New South Wales at the end of the month. Record high July temperatures were set in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. A Northern Territory July record (37.9 °C) was set at Bradshaw (Angallari Valley) on the 30th, and a New South Wales July record (31.8 °C) at Bourke on the 31st. 38.1 °C was reached on three occasions in Western Australia, at Kalumburu on the 24th and at Wyndham on the 29th and 30th; these were the equal second-highest July temperatures on record for Australia, and 0.2  °C short of the national July record, set at Kalumburu in 2016. August was also very warm in the tropics but few daily records were set.

There were no significant record low minimum temperatures during the winter of 2021. It is also the first time since observations became available from the Snowy Mountains in 1957 that there has been a winter in which no Australian site has had a minimum below −10 °C.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 112)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 106 +1.27 7th highest 104 +1.08 9th highest 109 +1.18 4th highest (record +1.46 °C in 1996)
Queensland 109 +1.63 4th highest (record +2.35 °C in 2017) 107 +1.96 6th highest 109 +1.80 4th highest (record +2.01 °C in 1973)
New South Wales 95 +0.86 100 +1.00 = 102 +0.93 equal 10th highest
Victoria 99 +0.74 = 108 +1.11 equal 4th highest (record +1.46 °C in 1991) 106 +0.93 7th highest
Tasmania 104 +0.73 9th highest 110 +1.20 3rd highest (record +1.30 °C in 1926) = 110 +0.97 equal 2nd highest (record +1.06 °C in 1988)
South Australia 104 +1.28 9th highest 98 +0.72 105 +1.00 8th highest
Western Australia 94 +0.94 = 97 +0.73 102 +0.84
Northern Territory 108 +1.78 5th highest = 84 +0.88 105 +1.33 8th highest

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 112 (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 4% below average for Australia as a whole. Although rainfall was below average, it was the wettest winter nationally since 2016. Nationally, June was wetter than average, July near average and August well below average. Winter rainfall did not rank in the wettest or driest 30 years in any state or the Northern Territory.

Winter rainfall was relatively close to average nationally, with only a few areas in the highest 10% or lowest 10% of historical totals. The most significant area of above-average winter rainfall was in inland New South Wales, particularly along and on the west side of the ranges, with some areas of very much above average rainfall in the Northern and Central Tablelands. A few locations in the Northern Tablelands had their wettest winter on record. The wet winter resulted in extended periods of minor to moderate flooding on several of the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. In contrast, rainfall was below average along much of the New South Wales coast.

Winter rainfall was also average to above average in most of Victoria and southern South Australia, and in the south-west of Western Australia from the Perth region southwards and eastwards. Areas further north in Western Australia, including the northern Wheatbelt and Gascoyne, had average to below average rainfall. July was very wet in south-western Western Australia, but drier conditions in June and August resulted in the regional winter average being only 6% above average. This was only the third above-average winter in the last 20 years. Tasmanian rainfall was mostly close to average.

Winter rainfall was average to above average over most of Queensland and large parts of the Northern Territory, although as this is the dry season, totals were generally modest. Other parts of the tropics and interior were seasonally dry.

The most significant rain event of the winter occurred between 8 and 11 June in association with a low near eastern Victoria. Its largest impact was in Victoria, where Mount Baw Baw received a daily fall of 280.6 mm on the 10th, the fifth-highest daily rainfall on record for Victoria, and many records were set in West Gippsland, the Central Highlands and the Southwest. Major flooding occurred on several Gippsland rivers. Prolonged severe winds also brought widespread damage in the Dandenong Ranges, Central Highlands and elevated parts of West Gippsland. Over 200,000 properties lost power, many for several days or longer. There was also some flooding in northern Tasmania.

Western Australia had a number of significant storms during the winter. One on 9 and 10 June brought coastal flooding around Perth and Busselton, while an associated northwest cloudband produced 173.4 mm in Exmouth on the 10th, the heaviest June daily fall in the state since 2013. Later, on the 21st, heavy rain resulted in flooding along the south coast, with daily falls exceeding 100 mm around Denmark, setting some records.

There were fewer major rain events in July and August. A Tasman Sea low in late August brought daily totals in the 50 to 100 mm range in coastal New South Wales from Sydney southwards, and in the far east of Victoria, while similar totals occurred on 31 August on the coast and adjacent inland areas of central and northern Queensland between about Gladstone and Townsville. In the northern tropics, an unseasonable rain event affected the Torres Strait Islands in early August, with 127.4 mm falling at Coconut Island on the 1st. This is the highest daily rainfall on record in August at any Australian site north of 15 °S.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 122)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 55 60.5 −4%
Queensland 76 54.1 +10%
New South Wales 87 127.7 +14%
Victoria 83 215.7 +5%
Tasmania 72 438.7 +3%
South Australia 53 49.2 −11%
Western Australia 42 49.6 −20%
Northern Territory 66 11.1 −33%
Murray-Darling Basin 85 125.3 +16%

Rank ranges from 1 (lowest) to 122 (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 2021
Hottest day 39.0 °C at Wyndham Airport (WA) on 31 August
Coldest day −4.1 °C at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on 3 July
Coldest night −10.0 °C at Perisher Valley AWS (NSW) on 7 July
Warmest night 26.5 °C at McCluer Island (NT) on 1 August
Wettest day 280.6 mm at Mount Baw Baw (Vic.) on 10 June


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 1:00 pm EDST on Wednesday 1 September 2021. 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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