Australia’s hottest summer on record

Map of Australia showing maximum temperatures in summer

Some places had average maximum temperatures in summer

The summer of 2012–13 will go down as Australia’s hottest on record, and January 2013 as the nation’s hottest month. Mean temperatures for the summer were 1.11 °C above normal, 0.13 °C above the previous record set in 1997–98.

High temperatures covered almost the entire country. Only about 3 per cent of Australia (mainly in the Pilbara in Western Australia) had below-normal temperatures this summer, as shown below. Every State and Territory except Tasmania had a summer in their ten warmest on record.

The most extreme heat occurred in the first three weeks of January, when an exceptionally extensive and prolonged heatwave affected most of the continent. Records were set in every State. Fourteen of the 112 sites used by the Bureau for long-term climate monitoring had their hottest day on record during the heatwave, the most sites ever to do so in a single summer. This included Sydney and Hobart, which set all-time records with 45.8 °C (on 18 January) and 41.8 °C (on 4 January), respectively. The highest temperature of the summer was 49.6 °C on 12 January at Moomba in the far north-east of South Australia.

Despite flooding rains on parts of the east coast, it was also a very dry summer for much of the country—especially the northern tropics (which suffered from a late and intermittent monsoon) and the southeast. For Australia as a whole it was the driest summer since 2004–05, while Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory all had their driest summers for more than 25 years, contributing to several large and long-lived bushfires.