Extreme Temperature Diary-February 2nd, 2019/ Topic: January 2019 Was Australia’s Hottest Month On Record

January 2019 Was Australia’s Hottest Month On Record

Saturday February 2nd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials). 😉.

Happy Groundhog Day everyone. I do feel a bit like Bill Murray revisiting the same old hot weather pattern again and again the last couple of months in Australia. Now we learn that temperature average wise Australia had its hottest month in recorded history in January of this year. Yes, while an extension of the polar vortex was taking a swipe at the United States producing very dangerous chill, life threatening heat was taking place across some portions of Australia:

Here are some particulars on Australia’s hottest month since records have been kept:

Today I am posting the information linked to the above tweet:

In brief

  • January warmest on record for Australia; warmest or second-warmest in each State and Territory
  • The month saw a series of heatwaves unprecedented in their scale and duration
  • A Special Climate Statement discussing the extraordinary heat has been released
  • Mean temperatures record-warm across large areas, and well above average everywhere except the Kimberley, west coast Western Australia, and northeastern Queensland
  • Nationally, January rainfall below average
  • Rainfall for the month very much below average for southeastern Queensland and much of southeastern Australia; driest January on record for Tasmania
  • Above average rainfall for parts of northern coastal Queensland, with flooding late in the month


January was an exceptionally warm month. It was the warmest January on record for Australia in terms of mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures. The national mean temperature was 2.91 °C above average. Maximum temperatures were 3.37 °C above average and minimum temperatures were 2.45 °C above average.

Both maxima and minima were warmer than average across nearly all of Australia, with near-average or cooler than average temperatures only observed in northeastern Queensland, across west coast and parts of south coast Western Australia, and other smaller areas in the Kimberley and Top End.

In terms of mean temperatures, January was the warmest or second-warmest on record for all States and the Northern Territory. January mean maximum temperatures were highest on record for the southern two thirds of the Northern Territory, adjacent parts of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, eastern South Australia, New South Wales and southern Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, and also for patches of inland southern Western Australia. Mean minima were highest on record for the month for a large area of inland northern Australia, and a large area spanning southern Queensland to the eastern half of Victoria.

A prolonged heatwave affected much of the country throughout the month, breaking records for duration and individual daily extremes. Both the scale and longevity of this persistent heat is unprecedented; since early December 2018 extreme heat has lingered and has been impacting different parts of the country ever since. Further information about the heatwaves that have affected the country can be found in the Special Climate Statement Widespread heatwaves during December 2018 and January 2019.

A persistence of stable and sunny conditions over much of the country, and a delayed onset of the Australian monsoon over northern Australia, created ideal conditions for heat build-up. This dome of hot air over the continent has brought extreme heat to various areas as weather systems, particularly troughs, have introduced extremely hot air into different regions, with little penetration of cooler air from the south to disrupt the hot, continental air mass.

Many of the most notable records include sites which observed record-long runs of consecutive hot days:

  • Birdsville (Qld.) had 10 consecutive days over 45 °C
  • Alice Springs Airport (NT) had 16 days in a row above 42 °C
  • Cloncurry (Qld.) had 43 consecutive days over 40 °C – a State record for Queensland
  • Camooweal(Qld.) had 40 consecutive days over 40 °C
  • Walungurru (NT) had 27 consecutive days above 40 °C
  • Bourke Airport (NSW) had 21 consecutive days above 40 °C – a State record for New South Wales

Many sites had their highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record in South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. Port Augusta reached 49.5 °C on 24 January, a record for the site and the highest temperature recorded anywhere in Australia since January 2013. Some sites in the Northern Territory and Western Australia also observed record-hot days.

Minimum temperatures were also particularly warm across the month, and extraordinarily so late in the month in New South Wales and Victoria. In the 24 hours to 9 am on the 26th temperatures at Wanaaring (Borrona Downs AWS)(NSW) did not drop below 36.6 °C, making it the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Australia. The previous national record of 35.5 °C was also exceeded on the 18th at Noona (NSW) and Wanaaring (Borrona Downs AWS). The night between the 24th and 25th was also exceptionally warm across most of Victoria. State and Territory records were also set during the month for South Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.

Tasmania missed most of the extreme heat that affected the mainland but was still consistently warm, leading to a record-warm month. Combined with extremely low rainfall across the State, and bouts of dry lightning, most notably on the 15th, 17th and 31st, Tasmania was subject to multiple very severe bushfires. Many of these fires were in remote or wilderness areas, presenting very challenging conditions for suppression and control, and were ongoing as of the end of the month.

Australian weather extremes during January 2019
Hottest day49.5 °C    at Port Augusta Aero (SA) on
the 24th
Coldest day6.7 °C    at Mount Read (Tas.) on the 9th
Coldest night−0.5 °C    at Buttlers Gorge (Tas.) on the
Warmest night36.6 °C    at Wanaaring (Borrona Downs AWS) (NSW) on the 26th
Wettest day471.6 mm at Whyanbeel Valley (Qld) on
the 27th

These two maps are eyepopping and quite ominous as global warming markers:


Rainfall for January was below above average for Australia as a whole.

January rainfall was below or very much below average across the southeastern quarter of Queensland, northeastern New South Wales, Victoria and adjacent southern New South Wales, southern South Australia, Tasmania, most of the southern half of Western Australia, most of the Northern Territory (except the Top End) and adjacent western Queensland.

Onset of the northern Australian monsoon was delayed during the summer of 2018–19. At Darwin monsoon onset occurred on 23 January, close to the latest onset during the past 60 years, which was 25 January in 1973. The delayed onset of the Australian monsoon was the primary cause of the low rainfall over northern Australia. For the northern wet season to date rainfall has been below average over most of northern Australia, excluding Queensland’s tropical and central coast, and the northeastern Top End.

Much of central to southern Queensland reported little or no rainfall during January, with large parts of the southeastern quarter of the State receiving their lowest total January rainfall on record.

It was also a particularly dry month through much of southeastern Australia. Rainfall was in the lowest 10% of historical observations for western and southern Victoria, southern agricultural regions of South Australia, and all of Tasmania. For Tasmania as a whole, rainfall was record low for January and several sites, including Hobart and Launceston, had their lowest total January rainfall on record.

The main area to observe above average rainfall for January was along the coast of central and northern Queensland, with other small pockets also wetter than average in central northern Queensland and the Top End, and central eastern New South Wales. Monsoonal systems brought flooding to Queensland’s north tropical coast late in the month, including daily rainfall records at a few locations. Regular thunderstorm activity also brought above average rainfall to parts of central and southeastern New South Wales.

Tropical cyclone Penny, and later the remnant low, also produced moderate to locally heavier falls across Cape York Peninsula and along Queensland’s tropical and central coast towards the start of the month.

Area-average rainfall
(of 120)
from mean
New South Wales2627.6−58%
South Australia= 285.2−79%
Western Australia3533.2−41%
Northern Territory2974.1−38%
Murray-Darling Basin1116.2−71%

Suffice it to say heat breeds drought and more drought has led to more heat as far as Australia goes. We will see if the last month of boreal summer, February, remains hot for much of Australia.

For more here is a Guardian article (click on the map):

Quoting The Guardian:

January was Australia’s hottest month on record, with the country’s mean temperature exceeding 30C for the first time since records began in 1910.

The Bureau of Meteorology released its climate summary for January on Friday and said the widespread heatwave conditions and daily extremes were “unprecedented”.

“There’s been so many records it’s really hard to count,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at the Bom.

January was Australia’s warmest month for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.

Large parts of Australia received only 20% of their normal rainfall, particularly throughout the south-east in Victoria and parts of New South Wales and South Australia.

What is happening in the Southern Hemisphere is not normal and should be a warning for those in the Northern Hemisphere during their summer. Record heat is becoming more likely and more common, a dire consequence of industrial pollution that many generations will have to deal with in the future.


Here is some more climate and weather news from Saturday:

More on this weeks Arctic blast and the polar vortex:


(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

The Climate Guy


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