Cold May in Australia

I completely missed that Australia saw their coldest May nationally since 2011. Here’s what their Bureau of Meteorology had to say about it:-

Australia in May 2020

In brief

  • Nationally, May was cooler than average for Australia; the first month with a national mean temperature below average since October 2016
  • Both mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures were below average for Australia as a whole
  • Mean maximum temperature below average for most of the eastern half of mainland Australia, extending into the inland northeast of Western Australia
  • Mean minimum temperatures below average for much of mainland Australia away from the eastern seaboard and much of the north; above average for Tasmania and some pockets of coastal northern Australia
  • May rainfall below average for the country as a whole
  • Rainfall below average for much of the southern half of Australia
  • Rainfall above average for much of northern Australia, particularly in the Kimberley and central northern Queensland


For Australia as a whole the national mean temperature was 0.62 °C cooler than average for May. This was the first time a cooler than average mean monthly temperature has been observed for Australia nationally since October 2016, and is the coolest May since 2011.

Nationally, both the mean maximum and mean minimum temperature were below average for May. The mean maximum temperature for May was 0.37 °C below average, while the mean minimum temperature was 0.89°C below average. No State or the Northern Territory placed amongst the ten warmest or coolest on record for May.

Maximum temperatures for May were below average across nearly all of Victoria and New South Wales except for some parts of the coast; the central and eastern two thirds of South Australia; most of Queensland except parts of the southeast, Peninsula, and areas through the west of the State; across the inland Kimberley and northern Interior District in Western Australia; and through much of the Northern Territory except the Top End, Gulf coast, and southwest.

Warmer than average mean monthly maximum temperatures for May were observed along parts of the northern coast in the Top End; in Western Australia in the southwesten Pilbara, western Gascoyne, and part of the south coast.

The mean minimum temperature for the month was below or very much below average for the southern half of Western Australia; for South Australia except the far southeast; the southern half of the Northern Territory and much of the area south of the Gulf of Carpentaria; for Queensland’s Herbert and Lower Burdekin and Central Coast and parts of the far west and inland southern border regions of that State; for most of the western half of New South Wales; and large parts of Victoria mostly in the inland southwest, South Gippsland, and northern border regions.

Mean minimum temperatures for the month were above average for Tasmania, the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, a pocket of the southwestern Top End in the Northern Territory, and along much of the Pilbara coast in Western Australia.

Some sites in New South Wales set records for their lowest May mean daily maximum temperature, and some in South Australia set records for lowest May mean daily minimum temperature, although for both States these sites have less than 50 years of observations. Some sites in Victoria also observed their lowest May mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years.

A strong cold outbreak brought cool temperatures to southeastern Australia and significant snowfall in the Alps with widespread light falls over elevated locations in the first days of May.

Towards the end of the month thick cloud over parts of northern Australia, combined with a cold outbreak reaching into northern Queensland and bringing cool, dry southeasterly flow into the Northern Territory, saw cool days in the northern tropics and parts of central and southeast Queensland between the 22nd and 24th. A large number of sites in Queensland observed their coldest May day on record, with a few sites having more than 80 years of observations. In the Northern Territory many sites also recorded their coolest May day or their coolest May night on record. For Queensland as a whole, 23 May was the coldest May day on record (16.94 °C, previous record 17.44 °C on 25 May 2012). A few sites in Queensland also observed their lowest May temperature on record on the 24th.

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