HomeLifeWinter summary finds season not as cold or wet as it felt

Winter summary finds season not as cold or wet as it felt

Spring has arrived and the BOM’s winter data is in. Was it really that cold? How wet was it compared to wet winters of the past and where are we sitting with the year-to-date data?

We could be getting soft, because while the word on the ground might have been that it was freezing this winter, the numbers are telling a different story.

The national mean temperature was 0.36°C above the 1961 to 1990 average, but the coldest since 2014.

The nationally averaged rainfall data has not threatened any records, coming in at just 4 per cent above average, but it was the wettest winter since 2016.

But there were certainly patches that were wet and cold.

Queensland and the Northern Territory both had high winter rainfall totals, at 55 and 48 per cent above average, respectively.

But given Queensland and the NT usually get very little rain over winter, it doesn’t take much to beat the average.

“This winter we saw several types of cloud bands cross the northern part of the Northern Territory and Queensland, which was bringing, for that part of the world, quite significant rain,” Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Simon Grainger said.

“It meant that in parts of the Northern Territory and Queensland the actual rainfall is over four times what they would normally expect for this time of the year.”

A map of Australia showing rainfall concentrations.
The north may look as if it had a particularly wet winter, but it doesn’t take much to beat a very small average. (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)

East coast still soaked

There was only 3 per cent more rain than normal this winter in New South Wales, but the state certainly had the most significant weather event of the season when an east coast low brought about heavy rain and flooding in and around Sydney in early July.

“That meant the coastal region from the Illawarra to the Mid North Coast had its wettest July since records began in 1900,” Dr Grainger said.

The relatively mild winter numbers also obscure just how wet the year has been so far.

“Most of the east coast of New South Wales and South East Queensland is in the wettest 10 per cent of all years since 1900,” Dr Grainger said.

A handful of areas are tracking towards their wettest year on record, including Sydney.

“The year-to-date rainfall at the Observatory Hill station in Sydney is just past two metres,” Dr Grainger said. 

“The actual numbers 2010.6 millimetres for the year, and that is by far its wettest year-to-date on record.” 

A map of Australia showing rainfall concentrations.
Some parts of the country were hammered by rain this year, but others have missed out so far. (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)

The previous record year sat at less than 1850 millimetres at the same time in 1950.

Gippsland in Victoria, also experienced flooding in June and August, and South Australia and Western Australia both received heavy falls.

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Dry times in the south

Winter rain is the backbone of the southern cropping season and much of southern Australia had below average rainfall this winter.

“It’s not the worst, but it is actually generally below average,” Dr Grainger said.

The beginning of winter was particularly dry. 

“Both South Australia and Tasmania had their fifth driest July on record,” Dr Grainger said.

“But in Tasmania had they had a fairly wet August, so overall their winter rainfall is not too bad – but they had been fairly dry in the early part of winter.”

The main exceptions to the southern dry were inland areas of the South West Land Division in WA and in Gippsland.

“Both of those regions had some quite heavy rain from some cloud bands and fronts that came through,” Dr Grainger said.

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