Sydney in spring 2013: Warmest spring on record

  • Warmest spring on record
  • Above average rainfall, fewest rain days since 2002
  • Severe early-season bushfires during September and October

Rainfall - Dry start, wet end

Sydney Observatory Hill recorded 266.6 mm of rain during spring, slightly above the historical average of 229.3 mm. Most of the rain fell during November, which was the wettest for Sydney since 1984, while the September-October total was half the historical average. The rain fell over 24 rain days, well below the historical average of 34 days and the fewest since 2002, but nine days recorded at least 10 mm (average 6 days) and four recorded at least 25 mm (average 2 days).

Most of the rain during the season was associated with complex surface troughs and low pressure systems, with thunderstorm activity generating heavier local falls. Across the Sydney basin, heavy daily totals included:

  • 88.2 mm at Randwick on 17 September
  • 47.4 mm at Mona Vale on 28 October, with shortlived storms causing local flash flooding
  • 45 mm at Audley on 10 November
  • 53.6 mm at Wahroonga on 12 November
  • 96 mm at Avalon on 16 November
  • 67 mm at Prospect Reservoir on 19 November
  • 42.3 mm at Badgerys Creek on 23 November

Temperature - Warmest spring on record

Sydney Observatory Hill recorded an average maximum temperature of 24.7 °C during spring, 2.8 °C above the historical average and the warmest spring on record. Temperatures were warmest during the first part of the season, with the warmest September on record followed by the second-warmest October, associated with sunny conditions, westerly winds, and several very hot days. In contrast, above average rainfall resulted in closer to normal temperatures during November, which was the coldest month of the season.

Only seven days during the season failed to reach at least 20 °C (average 31 days), well below the previous record of 11 cool days in 2002 and 1988. There were ten days of at least 30 °C (average 4 days) and seven days above 32 °C (average 2-3 days); these included the second-earliest 31 °C day on record (7 September) and the third-warmest October day (37.3 °C on the 10th)

The average minimum temperature was 15.1 °C, 1.7 °C above the historical average and the equal-third-warmest on record. Nights were warm throughout the season, but particularly during September, which was the warmest on record for mean minimum temperatures as well as breaking the record for 9am temperatures on two occasions during the month.

The mean temperature for Sydney Observatory Hill was consequently 19.9 °C, 2.2 °C above the historical average and the warmest spring on record, 0.3 °C higher than the previous record in spring 1988. Notably, this follows the warmest winter on record for Sydney, recorded earlier this year.

Some sites had their highest spring mean daily maximum temperature on record.

Other phenomena - Strong winds and bushfires

The prevailing winds were variable during the season; September and October were dominated by anomalously northerly-westerly winds, contributing to warm, dry conditions, before a shift to cooler southerlies and easterlies during November. Strong winds caused damage on several occasions during September, with a tornado causing substantial damage in Hornsby during November.

The hot, dry, windy conditions contributed to substantial early-season bushfire activity during September and October. Notably, in the Springwood/Winmalee area of the Blue Mountains, two homes were destroyed during bushfires on 10 September, before a period of sustained bushfire activity between 17-23 October destroyed an additional 193 houses, as well as power, rail, and tourism infrastructure.

For further information, please see the relevant Monthly Climate Summary or Monthly Weather Review.

Further information

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Extremes in spring 2013
Hottest day 39.3 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS on 8 Nov
Warmest days on average 27.4 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS
27.4 °C at Richmond RAAF
Coolest days on average 23.8 °C at Terrey Hills AWS
Coldest day 15.0 °C at Springwood (Valley Heights) on 17 Nov
Coldest night 2.7 °C at Camden Airport AWS on 15 Oct
Coolest nights on average 9.6 °C at Camden Airport AWS
Warmest nights on average 15.1 °C at Sydney (Observatory Hill)
Warmest night 22.5 °C at Parramatta North (Masons Drive) on 9 Nov
Warmest on average overall 20.1 °C at Sydney Airport AMO
Coolest on average overall 17.9 °C at Campbelltown (Mount Annan)
Wettest overall 387.0 mm at Avalon (Wollstonecraft Ave)
Wettest day 96.0 mm at Avalon (Wollstonecraft Ave) on 16 Nov
Highest wind gust 100 km/h at Port Botany (Molineux Point AWS) on 10 Oct

Record highest spring mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for spring 2013 (°C)
Previous warmest
for spring
Years of
record
Average for
spring
Sydney (Observatory Hill) 24.7 24.2 in 2002 154 21.9
Sydney Airport AMO 25.3 24.5 in 2002 74 22.4
Prospect Reservoir 26.5 26.4 in 2002 46 23.5
Bankstown Airport AWS 26.2 26.0 in 2002 45 23.5


Summary statistics for spring 2013
Maximum temperatures
for spring
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for spring
(°C)
Rainfall
for spring
(millimetres)
Mean for
spring
2013
Diff
from
average
Highest for
spring
2013
Mean for
spring
2013
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
spring
2013
Total for
spring
2013
Average
for
spring
Rank of
spring
2013
Fraction of
spring
average
Badgerys Creek AWS 26.3   38.1 8 Nov 10.6   4.1 12 Sep 198.0
Bankstown Airport AWS 26.2 +2.7 38.4 8 Nov 11.9 +0.3 5.6 15 Oct 211.4 183.6 average 115%
Camden Airport AWS 26.5 +2.5 38.3 8 Nov 9.6 -0.3 2.7 15 Oct 192.0 182.3 average 105%
Campbelltown (Mount Annan) 26.0   37.1 8 Nov 9.9   3.0 15 Oct 187.0
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 24.9   35.9 10 Oct 12.1   5.7 25 Oct 226.0
Holsworthy Aerodrome AWS 25.8   38.1 8 Nov 11.5   4.8 15 Oct 192.4
Holsworthy Control Range 25.8   38.3 8 Nov 10.8   3.6 25 Oct 169.0
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 26.2   37.9 8 Nov 11.9   5.1 15 Oct 175.2
Parramatta North (Masons Drive) 25.9 +2.3 38.2 8 Nov 12.5 +0.7 6.3 15 Oct 206.2 208.1 average 99%
Penrith Lakes AWS 27.4   39.3 8 Nov 12.0   5.7 27 Sep 167.0
Prospect Reservoir 26.5 +3.0 36.8 10 Oct 12.3 +0.4 5.7 15 Oct 209.7 179.8 average 117%
Richmond RAAF 27.4   38.8 8 Nov 10.8   3.4 25 Oct 100.2 181.7 low 55%
Springwood (Valley Heights) 25.1   36.8 8 Nov 11.8   6.0 15 Oct 219.6 226.9 average 97%
Sydney (Observatory Hill) 24.7 +2.8 37.3 10 Oct 15.1 +1.7 9.7 4 Oct 270.8 229.6 average 118%
Sydney Airport AMO 25.3 +2.9 37.8 10 Oct 14.9 +1.9 9.4 13 Sep 266.6 212.8 high 125%
Terrey Hills AWS 23.8   35.2 10 Oct 13.2   7.4 15 Oct 331.2

Notes

A Seasonal Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Sydney 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.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 8 am on Monday 2 December 2013. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 20 years of record, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is being used for temperature area averages from December 2012 onwards. The major change from earlier datasets is that the ACORN-SAT dataset commences in 1910, rather than 1950, and hence rankings are calculated using a larger set of years.

Further information

Media
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