Greater Sydney in summer 2019-20: warm, but wetter than average after a dry start

Greater Sydney experienced a warm summer with mean minimum and maximum temperatures being above average throughout. After a very dry start to the season, February was particularly wet and resulted in above average summer rainfall totals. Smoke and raised dust resulted in poor air quality across the region for much of December and January.

A wet end to summer

Warm days and nights

  • Daytime temperatures in summer across Greater Sydney were generally one to two degrees warmer than normal
  • December and January were particularly warm with several new records being set for hot days
  • 4 January was especially hot, with most sites reaching the mid 40s and some sites having their highest temperature on record; Penrith Lakes reported 48.9 °C on this day, the highest temperature ever measured in the Sydney basin and the hottest recorded in New South Wales this summer
  • Daytime temperatures in February were closer to average, with coastal sites being slightly warmer than average and inland and Blue Mountain sites being slightly cooler than average
  • Minimum temperatures were generally around a degree warmer than average for summer
  • Summer started off with relatively cool overnight temperatures and Canterbury equaled its lowest summer temperature on record on 3 December
  • Warm nights at the start of February saw some sites, including Penrith Lakes, Badgerys Creek, Horsley Park and Mount Boyce, recording their warmest summer night on record

Sydney (Observatory Hill)

  • Total rainfall for Sydney (Observatory Hill) was 514.6 mm, which is 173% of the long-term average of 297.7 mm and the wettest summer since 1991/1992
  • During the February rain event, Sydney (Observatory Hill) had 242.0 mm rain in two days and 391.6 mm in four days, the highest such totals since 1992 and 1990 respectively
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Sydney (Observatory Hill) was 27.3 °C, which is 1.6 °C above the long-term average of 25.7 °C, and the eighth-warmest summer on record
  • The warmest day was 41.3 °C on 23 Jan, and the coolest day was on 1 Dec when the temperature reached 22.0 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Sydney (Observatory Hill) was 20.0 °C, which is 1.6 °C above the long-term average of 18.4 °C and the equal eighth-warmest summer on record
  • The coldest morning was 14.1 °C on 3 Dec, and the warmest morning was on 2 Feb when the minimum temperature was 24.8 °C

Other phenomena

  • Bushfire smoke and raised dust affected the Sydney basin for much of December and January, with poor air quality being a significant feature of the summer
  • Raised dust fell as dirty brown rain over the Sydney basin on 24 January
  • Heavy rain from 7 to 10 February resulted in flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Rivers and local flooding in various parts of Greater Sydney. There was also some coastal erosion on beaches. Observatory Hill had 242.0 mm rain in two days and 391.6 mm in four days, the highest such totals since 1992 and 1990 respectively

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Extremes in summer 2019-20
Hottest day 48.9 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS on 4 Jan 2020
Warmest days on average 31.6 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS
Coolest days on average 24.5 °C at Sydney Harbour (Wedding Cake West)
Coldest day 10.3 °C at Mount Boyce AWS on 2 Dec 2019
Coldest night 5.6 °C at Mount Boyce AWS on 2 Dec 2019
5.6 °C at Mount Boyce AWS on 3 Dec 2019
Coolest nights on average 13.0 °C at Katoomba (Farnells Rd)
Warmest nights on average 20.1 °C at Norah Head AWS
20.1 °C at Sydney Harbour (Wedding Cake West)
Warmest night 26.8 °C at Cooranbong (Lake Macquarie AWS) on 24 Jan 2020
Warmest on average overall 25.1 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS
Coolest on average overall 19.7 °C at Mount Boyce AWS
Wettest overall 832.0 mm at Faulconbridge (Great Western Hwy)
Wettest day 260.0 mm at Picton Council Depot on 10 Feb 2020
Strongest wind gust 111 km/h at Wattamolla AWS on 11 Jan 2020
111 km/h at Manly (North Head) on 18 Feb 2020

Record highest summer daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Bringelly (Maryland) 172.0 on 10 Feb 2020 159.2 on 3 Feb 1990 150
Katoomba (Farnells Rd) 226.0 on 10 Feb 2020 206.6 on 10 Feb 1992 135
Prospect Reservoir 165.0 on 10 Feb 2020 164.6 on 11 Feb 1956 134
Picton Council Depot 260.0 on 10 Feb 2020 216.7 on 10 Feb 1956 133
Castle Cove (Rosebridge Ave) 240.0 on 10 Feb 2020 =240.0 on 3 Feb 1990 63
Camden Airport AWS 181.6 on 10 Feb 2020 156.0 on 3 Feb 1990 49
Marrickville Golf Club 194.0 on 10 Feb 2020 139.7 on 13 Jan 1911 48
Mount Wilson (Clarine) 188.0 on 9 Feb 2020 175.0 on 24 Feb 2013 48
Peakhurst Golf Club 225.0 on 10 Feb 2020 132.0 on 23 Feb 1977 46
Wedderburn (Booalbyn) 203.0 on 10 Feb 2020 138.8 on 5 Feb 2008 40
Chatswood Bowling Club 206.0 on 10 Feb 2020 191.0 on 10 Feb 1956 32
Badgerys Creek AWS 200.0 on 10 Feb 2020 138.0 on 31 Jan 2001 26
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 189.2 on 10 Feb 2020 128.0 on 31 Jan 2001 26
Norah Head AWS 94.8 on 7 Feb 2020 89.0 on 28 Jan 2015 26
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 191.6 on 10 Feb 2020 114.4 on 29 Jan 2013 24
St Ives (Richmond Avenue) 187.6 on 10 Feb 2020 125.2 on 6 Jan 2016 23
Baulkham Hills Eucalyptus Ct 147.0 on 10 Feb 2020 104.5 on 6 Jan 2016 21
Concord (Brays Rd) 166.6 on 10 Feb 2020 106.0 on 29 Jan 2013 21
Gears (Wyong River) 176.0 on 8 Feb 2020 158.0 on 29 Jan 2013 21
North Parramatta (Burnside Homes) 171.0 on 10 Feb 2020 104.5 on 31 Jan 2001 21
North Rocks (Muirfield Golf Club) 154.5 on 10 Feb 2020 122.5 on 7 Feb 2010 21
Seven Hills (Radio FM 103.2) 144.5 on 10 Feb 2020 99.5 on 31 Jan 2001 21
Wyong (Mount Elliot) 229.0 on 8 Feb 2020 166.0 on 29 Jan 2013 21
Faulconbridge (Great Western Hwy) 241.0 on 10 Feb 2020 134.0 on 29 Jan 2013 20
Menangle Bridge (Nepean River) 133.0 on 10 Feb 2020 100.0 on 29 Jan 2013 20



Record highest summer total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Peakhurst Golf Club 590.0 469.7 in 1971 40 250.2
Wedderburn (Booalbyn) 492.0 469.6 in 1971 34 227.5
Mount Boyce AWS 660.0 533.4 in 2012 26 338.1
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 498.2 471.4 in 2007 23 256.5
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 512.2 487.0 in 2007 22 255.6
Baulkham Hills Eucalyptus Ct 452.5 444.0 in 2015 20 281.3

Highest summer total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
summer
Katoomba (Farnells Rd) 829.5 1164.4 in 1971* 458.2
Mount Wilson (Clarine) 751.4 913.0 in 1971* 440.2
Avalon Beach (Avalon (Palmgrove Rd)) 504.8 550.9 in 1958* 319.0
Marrickville Golf Club 502.0 831.4 in 1955* 259.8
Sydney (Observatory Hill) 514.6 665.0 in 1991 297.7
Sydney Airport AMO 442.4 561.4 in 1991 280.9
Bankstown Airport AWS 453.2 509.4 in 1991* 268.1
Camden (Brownlow Hill) 467.6 591.0 in 1991* 239.5
Castle Cove (Rosebridge Ave) 602.4 775.6 in 1991* 364.8
Prospect Reservoir 496.0 564.8 in 1991* 268.3
Parramatta North (Masons Drive) 497.6 623.0 in 1991* 304.3
Chatswood Bowling Club 531.0 911.5 in 1955* 340.8
Faulconbridge (St Georges Crescent) 713.9 932.4 in 1991* 420.9
Collaroy (Long Reef Golf Club) 446.0 658.9 in 1972* 316.8
Concord Golf Club 519.8 551.6 in 1991* 309.5
Springwood (Valley Heights) 716.0 829.0 in 1991* 367.5
Camden Airport AWS 458.0 508.2 in 1991* 243.0

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a higher value has gone unreported




Record highest summer temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Katoomba (Farnells Rd) 39.8 on 4 Jan 2020 37.7 on 11 Feb 2017 58 22.8
Parramatta North (Masons Drive) 47.0 on 4 Jan 2020 45.5 on 18 Jan 2013 53 28.0
Bankstown Airport AWS 47.0 on 4 Jan 2020 46.1 on 18 Jan 2013 52 28.0
Mount Boyce AWS 38.0 on 1 Feb 2020 37.2 on 11 Feb 2017 29 23.3
Richmond RAAF 47.4 on 4 Jan 2020 47.0 on 11 Feb 2017 27 29.6
Badgerys Creek AWS 47.6 on 4 Jan 2020 46.4 on 11 Feb 2017 25 29.2
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 45.9 on 4 Jan 2020 44.9 on 7 Jan 2018 25 27.3
Penrith Lakes AWS 48.9 on 4 Jan 2020 47.3 on 7 Jan 2018 25 30.2
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 47.0 on 4 Jan 2020 45.6 on 7 Jan 2018 23 29.1



Record highest summer daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Mount Boyce AWS 26.1 on 2 Feb 2020 24.5 on 11 Feb 2017 29 12.8
Badgerys Creek AWS 25.3 on 2 Feb 2020 25.1 on 14 Jan 2017 25 16.6
Penrith Lakes AWS 26.2 on 2 Feb 2020 25.7 on 3 Feb 2011 25 18.1
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 25.3 on 2 Feb 2020 25.0 on 20 Dec 2017 23 17.3



Record lowest summer temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
summer
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 8.5 on 3 Dec 2019 = 8.5 on 26 Dec 2006 25 17.9



Summary statistics for summer 2019-20
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
summer
2019-20
Diff
from
average
Highest for
summer
2019-20
Mean for
summer
2019-20
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
summer
2019-20
Total for
summer
2019-20
Average
for
summer
Rank of
summer
2019-20
Fraction of
summer
average
Badgerys Creek AWS 30.3 +1.1 47.6 4 Jan 2020 17.6 +1.0 9.2 3 Dec 2019 483.4 237.4 v high 204%
Bankstown Airport AWS 29.4 +1.4 47.0 4 Jan 2020 18.6 +0.9 9.2 3 Dec 2019 453.2 268.1 v high 169%
Camden Airport AWS 30.3 +1.3 46.2 4 Jan 2020 17.3 +1.0 8.2 5 Dec 2019 458.0 243.0 v high 188%
Campbelltown (Mount Annan) 30.0 +0.8 45.5 4 Jan 2020 17.0 +0.5 9.4 5 Dec 2019
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 28.0 +0.7 45.9 4 Jan 2020 18.4 +0.5 8.5 3 Dec 2019 512.2 255.6 highest 200%
Cooranbong (Lake Macquarie AWS) 28.9 +0.7 45.1 4 Jan 2020 17.7 +0.6 7.5 3 Dec 2019 417.8 321.7 average 130%
Gosford AWS 27.8   44.4 4 Jan 2020 18.9   10.7 3 Dec 2019
Holsworthy Aerodrome AWS 29.0   45.9 4 Jan 2020 18.0   10.1 3 Dec 2019 454.2
Holsworthy Defence AWS 28.8   45.9 1 Feb 2020 17.2   10.6 5 Dec 2019 513.4
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 30.1 +1.0 47.0 4 Jan 2020 17.8 +0.5 10.3 3 Dec 2019 498.2 256.5 highest 194%
Katoomba (Farnells Rd) 25.7 +2.9 39.8 4 Jan 2020 13.0 +0.5 5.8 3 Dec 2019 829.5 458.2 v high 181%
Mount Boyce AWS 25.6 +2.3 38.0 1 Feb 2020 13.7 +0.9 5.6 2 Dec 2019 660.0 338.1 highest 195%
Norah Head AWS 27.0 +1.2 40.7 23 Jan 2020 20.1 +0.7 12.9 3 Dec 2019 408.4 265.7 high 154%
Parramatta North (Masons Drive) 29.4 +1.4 47.0 4 Jan 2020 17.8 +0.6 12.0 17 Dec 2019 497.6 304.3 v high 164%
Penrith Lakes AWS 31.6 +1.4 48.9 4 Jan 2020 18.6 +0.5 11.9 5 Dec 2019 438.8 277.0 v high 158%
Richmond RAAF 31.4 +1.8 47.4 4 Jan 2020 18.2 +0.9 10.6 5 Dec 2019 320.8 276.7 average 116%
Springwood (Valley Heights) 28.9 +1.2 45.1 4 Jan 2020 17.0 +0.4 12.0 3 Dec 2019 716.0 367.5 v high 195%
Sydney (Observatory Hill) 27.3 +1.6 41.3 23 Jan 2020 20.0 +1.6 14.1 3 Dec 2019 514.6 297.7 v high 173%
Sydney Airport AMO 28.3 +2.0 43.7 23 Jan 2020 19.7 +1.1 14.3 3 Dec 2019 442.4 280.9 v high 157%
Sydney Harbour (Wedding Cake West) 24.5 +0.1 40.4 23 Jan 2020 20.1 +0.2 15.2 3 Dec 2019
Sydney Olympic Park AWS (Archery Centre) 29.0   47.1 4 Jan 2020 18.9   11.3 3 Dec 2019 554.4
Terrey Hills AWS 26.6 +0.4 44.5 4 Jan 2020 18.0 +0.2 11.9 3 Dec 2019 215.2 296.7 low 73%

Notes

The Seasonal climate summary, generally published on the first working day of each month, lists the main features of the weather in Greater Sydney using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. More extensive discussion of significant weather events, along with later information and data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

This summary includes data from observing sites in or near the Greater Sydney “Greater Capital City Statistical Area” (GCCSA). The Australian Bureau of Statistics designed the GCCSAs to “include the population within the urban area of the city, as well as people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, and live in small towns and rural areas surrounding the city. It is important to note that GCCSAs do not define the built up edge of the city. They provide a stable definition for these cities and are designed for the output of a range of social and economic survey data.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 8 am on Monday 2 March 2020. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

In some situations, some or all of the rainfall is in the form of hail or snow. In these cases the totals given are for the water equivalent: the depth of liquid water that results from melting any frozen precipitation. There can be significant 'undercatch' of snow in strong winds, meaning the true precipitation can be higher than that reported.

Averages for individual sites 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 10 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.

Where temperature area averages are mentioned, they are derived from the ACORN-SAT dataset.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
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