Australia in autumn 2019

In Brief

  • Australia's third-warmest autumn on record
  • Only Tasmania placed outside the top ten, with all other States and the Northern Territory amongst the ten warmest autumns on record
  • Significant fires affected Victoria during March, with other fires active in February continuing in both Victoria and New South Wales
  • Rainfall below to very much below average across much of Australia, particularly the western half of the continent
  • Rainfall above average for large parts of Queensland, the adjacent east of the Northern Territory, and smaller areas in Western Australia's Pilbara, northwestern New South Wales, and northeastern South Australia
  • Cyclones Trevor and Veronica caused flooding in parts of northern Queensland and the Northern Territory's western Gulf coast and about the Pilbara in Western Australia respectively during March

Temperatures

Autumn was the third-warmest on record for Australia, at 1.36 °C warmer than average. The Northern Territory and each of the individual States, except Tasmania, ranked amongst the ten warmest on record for autumn.

The national mean maximum temperature for autumn was the fifth on record for Australia (1.60 °C warmer than average) while the mean minimum temperature was the equal ninth-warmest on record for Australia (1.12 °C warmer than average).

The mean maximum temperature for the month was above or very much above average across most of Australia, except for much of Queensland away from the south, central coast, and from the Gulf Coast to central Peninsula. Autumn mean maximum temperature was also near average in the South West and South Coast districts of Western Australia.

Minimum temperature was also above to very much above average in most areas. The mean minimum temperature for the season was near-average to cooler than average across South West Western Australia and the central southern coastal regions of that State. Much of coastal South Australia, and a few pockets elsewhere also observed near-average mean monthly minimum temperatures.

Record high temperatures for autumn (both maximum and minimum temperatures) were observed in Tasmania and Victoria at the start of March; between the 10th and the 12th of March in Western Australia and Queensland, with a few more stations observing record-warm nights in both Queensland and New South Wales later that month.

Several stations in Western Australia observed record cool autumn nights during the middle part of May. At the end of May a series of cold fronts brought cool and rainy conditions to southeastern Australia, including good falls of snow across alpine areas, temperatures four to eight degrees cooler than average for May across large areas, and some record low temperatures for autumn in New South Wales and Queensland.

A number of significant fires had been burning in late summer (see February summary) and continued into early autumn. Lightning over the ranges to the east of Melbourne on the last day of February and first day of March, and again on the 4th of March, sparked multiple new fires, several of which became very large, including in Bunyip State Park southeast of Melbourne, at Yinnar South in Latrobe Valley in South Gippsland, and in Alpine National Park at Licola, northwest of Dargo, and near Omeo.

Autumn comes on the back of a string of warm months and warm seasons for Australia. This pattern is consistent with observed climate change. As the State of the Climate 2018 report outlines, Australia has warmed by over one degree since 1910, with most warming occurring since 1950. This means that natural climate variability sits on top of this background warming, and temperature records are likely to continue to be broken in the coming years.

For the year to date, Australia has observed the warmest mean temperature on record for the January–May period. The mean maximum and mean minimum temperature have respectively been the highest and second-highest on record for Australia over the same period.


Areal average temperatures
Maximum Temperature Minimum Temperature Mean Temperature
Rank
(of 110)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 110)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment Rank
(of 110)
Anomaly
(°C)
Comment
Australia 106 +1.60 5th highest = 101 +1.12 equal 9th highest 108 +1.36 3rd highest (record +1.99 °C in 2016)
Queensland 86 +0.82 106 +1.57 5th highest = 103 +1.20 equal 7th highest
New South Wales 103 +1.62 8th highest 106 +1.56 5th highest 107 +1.59 4th highest (record +2.29 °C in 2016)
Victoria 102 +1.15 9th highest 100 +0.93 103 +1.04 8th highest
Tasmania 92 +0.50 = 83 +0.19 91 +0.35
South Australia 106 +1.80 5th highest 90 +0.59 101 +1.20 10th highest
Western Australia 107 +2.01 4th highest (record +2.61 °C in 2005) 92 +0.68 105 +1.35 6th highest
Northern Territory 106 +1.81 5th highest 105 +1.56 6th highest = 107 +1.68 equal 3rd highest (record +2.33 °C in 2016)

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 autumn was below to very much below average for most of the western half of Australia. Autumn rainfall was also below average for most agricultural districts of South Australia, extending into far southwestern New South Wales and western Victoria; central Victoria to West Gippsland; eastern Tasmania; large areas of New South Wales between the northeast and central regions; and an area of Queensland's Gulf Country.

Rainfall for the season was the lowest on record along part of the west coast of Western Australia. A number of stations in Western Australia observed their driest autumn on record, with May being a particularly dry month for that State.

Autumn rainfall was above average for large parts of western to central Queensland, extending to the inland side of the ranges on the central coast, and also for parts of the southwest, the southern interior, and parts of Cape York Peninsula. Rainfall for the season was above average for parts of the east of the Northern Territory, and for a pocket of the Pilbara coast in Western Australia.

Two tropical cyclones in March, Trevor and Veronica, contributed strongly to above average autumn rainfall in Queensland and the Pilbara, resulting in areas of flooding. Some daily rainfall records for autumn were set in Queensland during March and in New South Wales at the end of the same month.

For the year to date (January–May), rainfall has been below to very much below average over much of Australia, with above average rainfall for the four months restricted to parts of northern, central and western Queensland, and small pockets on the northeastern tip of the Top End and on Pilbara coast, in the Northern Territory and Western Australia respectively. Rainfall for the period has been the lowest on record along a strip of the Western Australian coastline between about Bunbury and just south of Shark Bay.


Area-average rainfall
Rank
(of 120)
Average
(mm)
Departure
from mean
Comment
Australia 37 94.3 −22%
Queensland 90 180.7 +11%
New South Wales 40 97.4 −32%
Victoria 45 124.2 −21%
Tasmania 40 307.2 −10%
South Australia 24 27.9 −50%
Western Australia 17 50.5 −44%
Northern Territory 44 96.1 −31%
Murray-Darling Basin 62 96.1 −19%

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 autumn 2019
Hottest day 48.1 °C    at Roebourne Aero (WA) on 10 March
Coldest day −3.8 °C    at Mount Hotham (Vic.) on 29 May
Coldest night −9.8 °C    at Glen Innes Airport AWS (NSW) on 31 May
Warmest night 33.0 °C    at Bidyadanga (WA) on 15 March
Wettest day 302.0 mm at Lockhart River Airport (Qld) on 20 March


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 Monday 3 June 2019. 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries