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Sunday 31 December 2000

2000 a year of rainfall extremes across the nation
Year 2000 temperatures go against the trend
Significant rainfall records broken for December in Qld/NT
Annual rainfall deciles for year 2000. A decile is a 10% range, so annual totals in decile 10 are those that are in the top 10% of measurements on record. BoM
Figures from the Bureau of Meteorology show that total rainfall averaged throughout Australia during year 2000 was the second highest since 1900. Preliminary data from 2000 representative rainfall stations across the country indicate that the average rainfall recorded for the year was 714mm, second only to 1974 which had an average of 784mm. Much of this heavy rainfall can be attributed to the global climate system having been dominated by La Niņa conditions during the early part of the year. Some important record high annual rainfall totals were Cairns with 3141mm, Townsville 2416 and Winton 1171mm.

A notable record was set on the summit of Bellenden Ker which recorded the highest annual rainfall total ever measured in Australia. The mountain summit, southwest of Cairns and 1555 metres above sea level, recorded 12,461mm of rain in 2000, breaking its own 1999 record of 11,852mm by 609mm. 1050mm fell in three days at the end of February during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Steve, though the wettest day was 6 December when 468mm fell.

The map above (click for a large copy) shows that most of the northwestern half of the continent experienced annual totals in the top 10% of all recordings, while totals in parts of WA, NT and Qld were the highest on record. Capital city residents, however, are unlikely to have noticed, with most capitals recording average or below average rainfall. Southeast Queensland, including Brisbane, experienced record or close to record low rainfall for the year. Among the locations to report their driest years on record are Brisbane Airport with 574mm (only half its annual average), Amberley 390, Boonah 360 and, on the Darling Downs, Tara with 234mm.  

The Australian average annual mean temperature is calculated from 127 non-urban observing stations across Australia. The temperature records at these sites have been adjusted for changes due to instrumentation and location. Many of the sites are included in Australia's Reference Climate Station network - a special network established to monitor long-term climate trends and variability. BoM

The wet conditions and greater than normal cloud cover resulted in the average temperature for the country as a whole being 0.22° below the 1961 to 1990 average, the first time since 1984 that the Australian mean annual temperature has been below average. The mean maximum temperature was the main cause of the anomaly, being 0.44° below normal, while the mean minimum temperature was close to normal.

While 2000 was cool, the graph at left shows that most of Australia's warmest years on record occurred during the 1980s and 1990s. Global mean temperatures have also risen over the past century. According to preliminary estimates released by the World Meteorological Organization on 19 December 2000, the global mean temperature for 2000 was the fifth warmest on record, with Australia being one of the few regions recording a cooler than average year.

Some significant monthly rainfall records were broken in the Northern Territory and Queensland for December. In the following table, the first figure is December 2000 rainfall, second figure is previous record, third figure is the number of years of record at the station.

Brunette Downs NT 393.0 234.0 106
Tennant Creek AP NT 255.4 215.9 31
Jervois NT 288.0 195.2 35
Lockhart River Qld 966.3 825.7 44
Burketown PO Qld 907.2 534.0 110
Mt Isa AP Qld 270.4 169.2 34
Longreach AP Qld 193.4 136.2 46
Camooweal Qld 289.2 258.5 107
Urandangie Qld 362.2 271.0 109
Boulia Qld 259.1 221.0 115
Willis Island Qld 472.8 450.8 79

These figures haven't been quality controlled yet, but give some idea of the unusual rainfall in western Qld/eastern NT of the past few weeks. To have >100 year records fall over such a wide area is remarkable.

Today's highest rainfall totals for the 24 hours to 9am

101.4 Ingham Qld
100.0 Low Isles Qld
98.0 Glen Eagle Herbert River Qld
95.5 Kidston Gold Mine Einasleigh Qld
94.6 Abergowrie Bridge Qld

High falls for other periods:

59mm in 6h to 9pm
Georgetown: 52mm in 6h to 9pm
Low Isles LH: 97mm in 6h to 6am, 32.4mm falling in 1h to 5am
Ingham: 50mm in 9h to 6am

Today's highest & lowest temps

Wind (mean refers to the average windspeed over 10 minutes; gust is the highest speed recorded):


Other extremes

Flood peaks:
Albert at Burketown Qld:
about 6.40m overnight Sun/Mon with major flooding

Records set this day


Maximum Minimum
45.0 Pannawonica WA
42.7 Paraburdoo AP WA
27.6 Troughton Is WA
27.6 Willis Is Qld
15.0 Cape Bruny LH Tas
15.9 Mt Boyce NSW
-4.7 Charlotte Pass NSW

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
38.3 Elliston SA
38.5 Polda Basin SA
24.5 Nonning SA
20.8 Mt Seaview NSW
-4.7 Charlotte Pass NSW

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