Sydney in summer 2015-16: A stormy summer with a warm, dry end

Rainfall was above average in Sydney during summer, with several severe thunderstorms in December and January causing heavy rain and strong winds. Temperatures were above average, with both hot and cold spells early in the season followed by persistently warm, dry conditions during February.

  • Most days with 25 mm of rain since summer 1989-90
  • Tornado causes record high wind gust in December
  • Most days above 30 °C since summer 2010-11
  • Coldest January day since 1978
  • Longest spell of days above 26 °C on record

Rainfall was generally above average during summer, and the wettest for Observatory Hill since 2007-08. The rain fell over 33 days, close to the average of 36 days, of which seven recorded at least 25 mm of rainfall. This is the most heavy rain days since summer 1989-90, and more than double the average of 3 days.

January was the wettest for Sydney since 1988, with several severe thunderstorms causing strong winds, heavy rain, and flash flooding in parts of the city. An East Coast Low caused heavy rain in early January, with a three-day total of 239 mm at Frenchs Forest. Several thunderstorms also impacted Sydney in December, with severe storms on the 16th causing major damage in southeastern Sydney including a tornado at Kurnell. A maximum wind gust of 213 km/h was recorded during this event, the strongest gust ever recorded in NSW. In contrast, February was dry across the Greater Sydney region, with only one day recording heavy rain anywhere in the city.

Both maximum and minimum temperatures were generally above average during the summer, particularly in eastern Sydney, with Observatory Hill recording its warmest summer mean maximum temperature since 2010-11. Daytime temperatures were above average across the city during December and February, while days were cooler than average in western Sydney during January. In total, there were 14 days above 30 °C during the season, the most since summer 2010-11 (average 9 days), while there was a record spell of 25 days of 26 °C or higher during February. In contrast, a cool spell in early January included the coolest January day for Sydney since 1978.

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Extremes in summer 2015-16
Hottest day 42.2 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS on 25 Feb 2016
Warmest days on average 29.8 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS
Coolest days on average 26.5 °C at Terrey Hills AWS
Coldest day 16.2 °C at Springwood (Valley Heights) on 5 Jan 2016
Coldest night 8.9 °C at Camden Airport AWS on 4 Dec 2015
Coolest nights on average 16.1 °C at Camden Airport AWS
16.1 °C at Campbelltown (Mount Annan)
Warmest nights on average 19.6 °C at Sydney Airport AMO
Warmest night 24.3 °C at Parramatta North (Masons Drive) on 21 Dec 2015
Warmest on average overall 24.0 °C at Penrith Lakes AWS
Coolest on average overall 21.9 °C at Springwood (Valley Heights)
Wettest overall 542.0 mm at Turramurra (Kissing Point Road)
Driest overall 277.0 mm at Campbelltown (Kentlyn (Georges River Road))
Wettest day 129.0 mm at Frenchs Forest (Frenchs Forest Rd) on 6 Jan 2016
Strongest wind gust 213 km/h at Kurnell AWS on 16 Dec 2015

Highest summer total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
summer
Frenchs Forest (Frenchs Forest Rd) 530.0 826.2 in 1991* 387.8

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


Summary statistics for summer 2015-16
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
summer
2015-16
Diff
from
average
Highest for
summer
2015-16
Mean for
summer
2015-16
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
summer
2015-16
Total for
summer
2015-16
Average
for
summer
Rank of
summer
2015-16
Fraction of
summer
average
Badgerys Creek AWS 29.6 +0.8 41.8 20 Dec 2015 16.5 0.0 10.4 4 Dec 2015 168.2 244.9 low 69%
Bankstown Airport AWS 29.1 +1.3 40.7 25 Feb 2016 17.8 +0.2 11.8 4 Dec 2015 312.2 266.2 average 117%
Camden Airport AWS 29.4 +0.6 40.9 20 Dec 2015 16.1 -0.2 8.9 4 Dec 2015 330.6 241.7 high 137%
Campbelltown (Mount Annan) 29.1   40.1 20 Dec 2015 16.1   9.8 5 Dec 2015 292.0
Canterbury Racecourse AWS 27.4 +0.3 39.3 14 Jan 2016 17.5 -0.3 11.1 5 Dec 2015
Holsworthy Aerodrome AWS 28.5   40.6 14 Jan 2016 17.0   10.1 4 Dec 2015 340.8
Horsley Park Equestrian Centre AWS 28.8 0.0 40.0 20 Dec 2015 17.0 -0.2 11.0 4 Dec 2015 342.0 252.8 high 135%
Parramatta North (Masons Drive) 28.4 +0.5 40.0 25 Feb 2016 17.5 +0.4 11.0 4 Dec 2015 392.8 305.3 high 129%
Penrith Lakes AWS 29.8 0.0 42.2 25 Feb 2016 18.2 +0.3 12.4 4 Dec 2015 418.8 284.6 high 147%
Prospect Reservoir 29.1 +1.1 41.0 25 Feb 2016 17.4 +0.1 11.2 4 Dec 2015 399.5 266.8 high 150%
Richmond RAAF 29.6 +0.4 40.0 14 Jan 2016 17.0 -0.1 9.9 5 Dec 2015 359.4 287.5 high 125%
Springwood (Valley Heights) 27.4   39.5 25 Feb 2016 16.4   11.0 4 Dec 2015 442.2 368.0 average 120%
Sydney (Observatory Hill) 27.2 +1.6 39.2 14 Jan 2016 19.5 +1.1 14.3 15 Jan 2016 372.2 297.2 high 125%
Sydney Airport AMO 27.8 +1.6 40.6 14 Jan 2016 19.6 +1.1 14.3 15 Jan 2016 368.0 280.9 high 131%
Terrey Hills AWS 26.5 +0.7 38.9 14 Jan 2016 17.8 +0.2 12.0 30 Dec 2015 136.2 306.3 v low 44%

Notes

The Seasonal climate summary lists 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.

A climate summary is generally published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 9 am on Tuesday 1 March 2016. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

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.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is used for temperature area averages.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
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