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Ben Domensino, 03 Apr 2024, 2:41 AM UTC

Australia's third wettest March on record

Australia's third wettest March on record

Australia just had one of its wettest and warmest Marches on record as the country experienced a climate juxtaposition of persistent late season heat alongside widespread outback rainfall.

The national area-averaged rainfall in March 2024 was 86% above the 1961-1990 average, making it Australia’s third wettest March in 125 years of records.

But while the national anomaly was abnormally wet, it was also a remarkably dry month in some parts of the country.

Huge amounts of rain fell over Australia's vast central and western Interior last month as tropical moisture was drawn south by slow-moving low pressure troughs. Parts of WA and the NT saw their heaviest March rain on record, while both states ended up having one of their top 4 wettest Marches in recorded history.

This prolific outback rain, which flooded Australia’s largest sheep station, was a stark contrast to the abundantly sunny skies seen in the southeast of Australia last month.

Rainfall was well below average over parts of Vic, Tas, SA, eastern NSW and the southwest of WA in March. Some places in Vic even had their driest March on record, including Melbourne.

Image: Observed rainfall deciles in March 2024. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The dry weather in southern and southeastern Australia was accompanied by rare early-autumn warmth. SA registered its warmest March on record, with a mean temperature that was 2.86ºC above the 1961-1990 average (2.37ºC above 1991-2020).

This abnormal heat in southeastern Australia was partially balanced out by relatively cool daytime temperatures beneath thick cloud cover across the nation’s northern and western Interior. However, the heat was more anomalous than the cold, resulting in Australia’s equal 10th warmest March in records dating back to 1910.

Image: Observed mean temperature deciles in March 2024. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The highest temperature in March 2024 was 44.0ºC at Paraburdoo in WA, while the lowest was -4.4ºC at Thredbo in NSW.

Image: Waterfalls on Uluru after some heavy rain in early March 2024. Source: @the_working_journey / Instagram

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