Warm, dry, record-breaking: Canberra’s weather in 2018

The capital also recorded its driest autumn since 2004 and its driest winter since 1994 at Canberra Airport with daytime temperatures above average every month of the year.

Canberra only recorded 86 rain days last year, below the average of 105 but not breaking the lowest-record of 65 days in 2006.

Unsurprisingly, Canberra recorded its wettest 24 hours between 9am Sunday, February 25 and 9am Monday, February 26.

That day saw the capital soaked in more than February’s average for rain, with flooding across north Canberra and people making over 200 calls for help from emergency services.’

The airport recorded the third-warmest year on record, with a mean temperature of 1.3 degrees above average.

The mean maximum was 22 degrees, 1.7 degrees above average and the warmest mean maximum on record.

The mean minimum was 6.9 degrees, just 0.4 degrees above average.

While February, November and December were wetter than average months, Canberra Airport recorded only 76 per cent of its long term rain average.

The heatwave early last year saw Canberra swelter through some of its hottest days in January, with Canberra Airport recording a max of 40.6 degrees on Sunday, January 7.

Daytime temperatures were above average every month of the year, 2018 marking the warmest April, second-warmest July, fourth-warmest January and fifth-warmest December.

Last year also saw 63 days above 30 degrees or more at Canberra Airport, almost double the long-term average of 33 days.

And the capital is beginning to see less cool nights, with 88 nights dropping below 2 degrees, five days less than the average.

If Canberrans were looking to cop some of the capital’s harshest weather, they needed to head west, up to Mount Ginini in the Brindabella Ranges.


There the weather station recorded Canberra’s coldest day, dropping to minus 3.2 degrees on Sunday, August 19.

The next night, the station also record the capital’s coldest night, minus-eight degrees on Monday, August 20.

It also copped Canberra’s strongest wind gust at 113 km/h on Friday, May 18.

The bureau has called 2018 “a year of protracted drought and persistent warmth” and said there was a trend in some regions towards an increasing number of high fire danger days combined with conditions allowing bushfires to generate thunderstorms.

These trends, the bureau said, could lead to the fire conditions seen in the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

NSW, which is undergoing a drought across most of the state, recorded its warmest year on record in 2018.

Only one of Australia’s warmest ten years on record occurred before 2005, with nine in the last decade alone warmer than average.

Finbar O’Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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