Skip to Content


Search Icon
By Andrew Marshall, 02 Jun 2021, 7:49 PM UTC

Tasmania records driest May for a decade, but winter rain is on the way

Tasmania records driest May for a decade, but winter rain is on the way
Source: ABC
This year's autumn months were a mixed bag for Tasmania, with low rainfall, particularly in the north ? but winter is set to turn that around. The state recorded its lowest autumn rainfall since 2017. Rainfall was below to far below average across the central north and parts of central Tasmania, but close to average elsewhere.  Records for highest autumn daily rainfall were set at Coles Bay (113.4mm) and Taranna (100.0mm) on March 25 when a low-pressure system brought heavy rainfall and strong winds to the east-coast district. Days were warmer than average for autumn across most of Tasmania, while nights were warmer than average across the south and north-west. Averaged across the state, overnight temperatures were close to average for autumn but were the coolest since 2015. Autumn also marked the end of the La Niña event of 2020-21 that brought above-average summer rainfall to northern Tasmania.  March wet along the east coast March was wetter than average along the east coast of Tasmania, with parts of the central east coast having monthly totals in the wettest 10 per cent of records. Heavy rainfall from a low-pressure system triggered flash flooding in the east and major flooding for parts of the South Esk River in the north-east later in the month.  This event brought several sites their highest March daily rainfall on March 25, including Orford (120.2 mm), Friendly Beaches (105.2 mm) and kunanyi/Mt Wellington (91.0 mm). Averaged across the state, rainfall was 19 per cent above the long-term average for March.  For temperature, days were close to average while nights were warmer than average across Tasmania. Records were set for highest March average overnight temperature at Bicheno (14.5C) and Fingal (10C). Tasmania's weather during March was largely influenced by the La Niña event in the tropical Pacific, and a blocking high-pressure system over the Tasman Sea in the second half of the month.   The bureau's outlook for La Niña was reset to "inactive" at the end of March, meaning a return to neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Standouts included: Wettest day: 275.4 mm at Gray (Dalmayne Rd) on March 25 Warmest night: 18.9C at Flinders Island Airport on March 13 April dry across the north-east After a wet start to autumn for the east coast, April brought below-average rainfall to north-eastern Tasmania and close to or above-average rainfall elsewhere. For the state overall, rainfall was 18 per cent below average and the lowest for April since 2018. Daytime temperatures were higher than average in the north-east, overnight temperatures were higher than average in the south, and elsewhere temperatures were close to average for April. Most of the records set in April were for hot and cold temperature extremes. A warm spell for southern Australia over the Easter long weekend brought several sites their highest April temperature on record on April 3, including Tasman Island with 28.2C and Lake St Clair National Park with 24.9C. Later in the month, a strong cold front crossed south-east Australia, leading to some record-low temperatures at Campania (10.3C) and Friendly Beaches (10.8C) on April 20, which was the coldest April day on record for both locations.  Other standouts included: Hottest day: 32.3C in Hobart (Ellerslie Road) on April 3 Coldest day: 0C at kunanyi/Mt Wellington pinnacle on April 11 and 20 Driest May in 10 years  May brought a continuation of dry conditions to parts of northern and eastern Tasmania, with near-average rainfall recorded elsewhere around the state. Overall, it was the driest May for Tasmania since 2011. Despite it being a drier than average month, Tasmania experienced a series of rain-bearing cold fronts around the middle of May and again on May 26 when Liawenee (42mm) and Nunamara Offtake (44mm) had their wettest May day on record. Daytime temperatures were higher than average in the south, tending to close to average across the north. Averaged across the state, the overnight temperature was a half a degree below the average for May and the coolest since 2013. Records for the highest May temperature were set at Strahan Aerodrome on May 1 (23.3C) and for the lowest May temperature at Flinders Island Airport on May 29 (-1.7C). Other standouts included: Warmest night: 15.9C at Flinders Island Airport on May 7 Coldest night: -7.0C at Liawenee on May 31 Wet winter ahead Winter 2021 is likely to bring above-average rainfall to parts of northern Tasmania and near-average rainfall elsewhere. Australia's seasonal climate drivers are currently in their neutral phase, with the Pacific Ocean showing no signs of either an El Niño or La Niña event for at least the next six months. However, unseasonably warm waters to the north of Australia and in the eastern Indian Ocean are likely to influence Australian rainfall by providing a flow of moist air across the continent into the south-east. Daytime and overnight temperatures are likely to be above average across Tasmania, partly due to more north-easterly wind flow at times, but also due to above-average ocean temperatures around parts of the state. Dr Andrew Marshall is a senior research scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology