06 Mar 2012

Weather geeks

No Comments Australia, Weather Down Under and Up Above

Both Simon and I have a bit of a geeky interest in weather  and too boost the interest we regularly visit weather sites and it was then I found that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology publish an annual climate summary. Why doesn’t Sweden do that by the way? It would have been interesting to read, maybe not as dramatic as the Australian one with cyclones, heat-waves and brushfires but still. In Sweden you have to pay to get hold of historic weather statistics, in Australia you can find it all on the Bureau of Meteorology’s webpage. I read the whole report for 2011 ( it’s not that long only 17 pages) and below you can find some highlights about the rather cool and wet year. If you wish to read the whole thing too, you can find the report on www.bom.gov.au

First cooler-than-average year since 2001

For the first time in a decade, Australia’s annual mean temperature 21.67 °C for 2011, was below the 1961–1990 average. Cooler temperatures in Australia are typically associated with high rainfall. The last cooler-than-average year was 2001, which, like 2010, was a La Niña year with well above average rainfall.

Australia’s wettest two-year period on record

The majority of Australia received very much above average rainfall for 2011 and the mean rainfall total for 2011 was 705 mm, 240 mm above the long-term average of 465 mm, placing the year at second wettest since records began in 1900. Back-to-back La Niña events led to a two-year rainfall total of 1408 mm, the highest two-year total on record, surpassing 1407 mm in 1973–1974.

The 2010–2011 La Niña, one of the strongest on record, brought above average rainfall during the second half of 2010 and the first part of 2011, before decaying in autumn. As has occurred several times in the historical record, La Niña conditions redeveloped during spring, with a second, weaker event continuing into summer 2011–12.

 Capital cities

All capital cities, except Darwin, recorded warmer than average maximum temperatures, while Darwin, Brisbane and Canberra recorded cooler than average minima. Annual average maxima for Perth were the warmest in 114 years of record. Adelaide recorded the highest capital city maximum temperature in 2011, with 42.9 °C on 31 January. The lowest capital city temperature was –8.0 °C in Canberra on 29 July, the coolest night in Canberra since 1994.

Highest temperature (°C)

Lowest temperature (°C)
Average max.
Long term average
Anomaly (°C)
 Average min.
Long term average
Anomaly (°C)
Rainfall (mm) & no. rain days
Long term average (mm)
29 January
4 July
 861 on 106 days
27 November
14 June
 2693 on 145 days
31 January
22 July
 538 on 120 days
20 February
9 August
 1176 on 133 days
5 February
8 July
 1369 on 175 days
31 January
29 July
 580 on 117 days
1 February
27 July
 835 on 150 days
8 January
27 July
 691 on 183 days

 Significant events

January – Flooding in Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria.

Heavy rainfall at the start of 2011, on top of already wet soil profiles, resulted in some of the most significant flooding—in terms of extent, impact and severity—in Australia’s recorded history.

February – Cyclones, heatwaves and thunderstorms.

Severe tropical cyclone Yasi developed northwest of Fiji, intensifying to a category 4 storm on 1 February before making landfall near Mission Beach, between Cairns and Townsville, as a marginal category 5 storm early on 3 February 2011. Yasi was the strongest cyclone to make landfall in Queensland since at least the 1918 La Niña.

A remnant of tropical cyclone Anthony brought extreme rainfall to Victoria on 4 February 2011. Thunderstorms developed as moist tropical air associated with ex-tropical cyclone Yasi interacted with a persistent surface pressure trough. Flash flooding affected numerous locations, most severely in Mildura and the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne where daily rainfall totals of 100–200 mm were widespread.

Slow-moving tropical cyclone Carlos brought heavy rainfall to the Top End between 15 and 17 February. Daily totals exceeding 300 mm were common in the greater Darwin area, with a record highest daily rainfall of 367.6 mm at Darwin Airport on the 16th, and a record three-day total of 684.8 mm at Darwin Airport. For February in total, Darwin received 1110 mm, its highest monthly total on record, passing its annual average just two months into the year.

Southern mainland Australia experienced a heatwave from late January to early February. Maximum temperature records were set in southeast Western Australia and central South Australia, including an all-time record of 48.1 °C at Woomera on 25 January.

March to May -More flooding and the coldest autumn since at least 1950.

It was Australia’s coldest March on record for maximum temperatures. Autumn was generally cool for Australia, but particularly so across the tropics. March was very wet for most of Australia, excluding the west of Western Australia and northeastern New South Wales. It was the wettest March on record for Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Winter – Cold for the tropics, a hot spell for the southeast.

Persistent low temperatures in the northern tropics from late May to mid-June brought the Northern Territory’s coldest start to the dry season on record.

Spring into December – Storms and record heat in Western Australia.

The spring months saw numerous thunderstorms across Australia. Areas of Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria were all subject to storms with at least minor damage and flash flooding.

Roebourne Airport in the Pilbara recorded a maximum temperature of 49.4 °C on 21 December, the highest December temperature ever recorded in Western Australia. This was also the second warmest December day in Australia, just 0.1 °C behind the Australia record
(49.5 °C, at Birdsville on 24 December 1972) and the fifth hottest day ever recorded in Western Australia. The Pilbara is one of the hottest parts of Australia with frequent heatwaves and temperatures often above 45 °C. The region has recorded Australia’s highest temperature in 14 of the last 20 years.

A low pressure system and associated trough triggered severe thunderstorms across the greater Melbourne region on 25 December, with hail causing extensive damage to property and cars across the northern suburbs, especially in Eltham. Flash flooding also affected the northeastern suburbs and there were reports of strong winds and tornadoes to Melbourne’s west.


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