Extreme Temperature Diary-March 1st, 2019/ Australia Had Its Hottest Summer On Record And Other Climate Summaries

Friday March 1st… 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)

Australia Had Its Hottest Summer On Record And Other Climate Summaries

Welcome to boteal spring in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere most are welcoming the change of season towards fall, particularly across Australia, which just completed its hottest summer on record, a blistering ordeal to be sure. Over the next week we will be seeing and reporting various climatological summaries for the past set of three months. Tomorrow I will post my spring forecast, as usual, for the United States, which will broadly take into account trends for average temperature forecasts. Today let’s concentrate on climatology as it comes on line for December-February, and first most notably that of Australia.

For those trying to prove that indeed global warming is occurring this is a big deal:


I invite all to read this entire summary. Here are a few highlights:

In Brief

  • Australia’s warmest summer on record, marked by persistent widespread heat
  • Mean and maximum temperature for the season broke previous records by large margins; both almost one degree above the record set in 2012–13
  • Warmest on record for New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory
  • Summer second-warmest on record for Tasmania and South Australia, fourth-warmest for Queensland
  • Exceptional heatwaves during early December on the tropical Queensland coast and across much of Australia during December and January
  • Significant fires affecting eastern Queensland, large parts of Tasmania, eastern Victoria, northeastern New South Wales, and South West Western Australia
  • Rainfall below to very much below average across most of Australia, but above average for large parts of northern Queensland
  • Severe tropical cyclone Owen caused flooding in the Queensland’s eastern Cape York Peninsula in mid-December, and contributed to thunderstorms over southeast Australia, with flooding in western and northern Victoria
  • Active monsoon trough and slow-moving low from late January to early February produced extremely heavy rainfall , with very large areas of flooding in northern Queensland
  • Delayed and generally weak monsoon; onset at Darwin 23 January, 2 days short of latest on record
  • Severe thunderstorms with giant hail over eastern New South Wales on 20 December caused extensive property damage, including in Sydney and the Blue Mountains
  • Dust storms originating from Central Australia affected the east on several occasions; one storm in mid-February stretched over 1500 km


Summer 2018–19 was Australia’s warmest summer on record.

The national mean temperature for summer was 2.14 °C warmer than the 1961–90 average, breaking the previous record (+1.28 °C in 2012–13) by a large margin. The mean maximum temperature for summer also broke the national record (was +1.64 °C in 2012–13) by a similar margin, with the 2018–19 summer mean maximum temperature 2.61 °C warmer than average, while the mean minimum temperature broke the record by a smaller, but still substantial, margin at 1.67 °C warmer than average (record was +1.09 °C in 2017–18).

It was exceptionally warm across most of the country, with summer the warmest on record for New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, second-warmest for Tasmania and South Australia, and fourth-warmest for Queensland. Both maximum and minimum temperatures for the season were exceptionally warm, with only the mean maximum temperature for Queensland (ranked equal-seventh) placing outside the top three warmest on record. Some of the regions broke their existing records by very large margins, e.g. mean maximum temperature for the Northern Territory (new record +3.25 °C, old record +1.76 °C) and mean minimum temperature for New South Wales (new record +3.21 °C, old record +2.33 °C).


Rainfall for summer was below to very much below average for most of Australia. For the nation as a whole, it was the seventh-driest summer on record, despite very heavy rain in parts of northern Queensland.

Rainfall was very much below average, in the lowest 10% of historical observations, across much of the Northern Territory; northeastern and central southern South Australia; across the southeastern quarter of Queensland, extending into northern New South Wales, and along the western end of the border between the two States; in large areas around the north, west, and south coast of Western Australia; and in small pockets of West and South Gippsland in Victoria, focused about the southern ranges, and in southern Tasmania.

Many sites in southern Queensland, Western Australia, and New South Wales observed their driest summer on record, as did some sites in South Australia.

A delayed and generally weak monsoon contributed to the fourth-lowest total summer rainfall on record for the Northern Territory, and fifth-lowest on record for Western Australia. In Darwin, monsoon onset did not occur until 23 January (the second-latest on record, behind 1972–73), which is nearly a month later than usual. In the south of the country, long-lived blocking high pressure systems over the Tasman Sea and a lack of strong cold fronts contributed to below average rainfall.

In stark contrast to most of the rest of Australia, several intense rainfall events contributed to above or very much above average rainfall along the northeast coast, northern interior and northwest of Queensland, resulting in record high summer rainfall totals at a large number of sites in northern Queensland. Rainfall was also above average for a pocket of northwest Victoria, following storms and flash flooding in mid-December associated with tropical cyclone Owen.

Severe tropical cyclone Owen caused flooding on the east of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula in mid-December, and contributed to thunderstorms over southeastern Australia, producing heavy rain and flooding in western and northern Victoria. Torrential rainfall affected the east coast as Owen decayed, passing from land into the Coral Sea, including a new Australian daily rainfall for December of 678 mm in the 24 hours to 9 am AEST on the 16th at Halifax Macrossan Street, east of Ingham.

From 24 January to early February, an active monsoon trough and a slow-moving monsoonal low produced extremely heavy rainfall over tropical Queensland. The system produced 11 consecutive days of heavy rain in some areas, with daily rainfall records at some sites, as well as multi-day total records as some locations received a year’s worth of rain in a two-week period. For example, Townsville Aero received 1339.8 mm in the 11 days to 9 am on 8 February (a new record). The average rainfall at Townsville Aero (based on all years since 1940) is 701.4 mm for summer, and 1127.9 mm for the year as a whole.

Flooding resulted in northern Queensland on the coast between Daintree and Mackay, parts of the western Peninsula, and across the Gulf coast. The flooding in the Gulf catchments was extensive, and continued well into February, including in some rivers which drain inland. At the end of the February floodwater had reached Goyder Lagoon, in far northeastern South Australia, and some of this water will make its way to Lake Eyre / Kati Thanda over the coming weeks.

I will be posting more summaries for the past season on this post should I see them in the next couple of days such as these:


Here is more of today’s weather and climate news:

(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. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

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The Climate Guy

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