ACT News

Canberra's coldest winter in 15 years and wettest in 10 years finally ending

After enduring the coldest winter in 15 years and wettest winter in 10 years, Canberrans are ready to shed the layers, plant the bulbs and sit in the sun with the arrival of spring - finally - on Tuesday.

True, a freezing morning is still forecast for the first day of spring on Tuesday but the turn of the calendar to September 1 provides a major psychological boost for any resident of the national capital.

Matilda Hodder, 4, with her parents Emma and Jarrod Hodder getting ready for spring.
Matilda Hodder, 4, with her parents Emma and Jarrod Hodder getting ready for spring.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Because, as the stats prove, we've done it tough this winter.

Weatherzone has provided some preliminary statistics for winter 2015 at the Canberra airport which show we shivered through 53 below-zero mornings - 10 more than normal.

The coldest temperature for winter this year was minus 7 degrees, which was recorded on two days, June 2 and July 3. The warmest day was August 22, with a top temperature of 21 degrees.

The average temperature for this winter was 6.41 degrees compared to the long-term average of 6.43 to 6.45 degrees.


Weatherzone senior meteorologist Anthony Duke said the average night-time temperatures for winter this year was expected to be around minus 0.2 degrees, which was 0.8 degrees colder than the average of 0.6 degrees.

Maximum day-time temperatures during winter were actually warmer than average of 12.3 degrees by 0.7 degrees. 

"Because the overnight temperatures have been 0.8 degrees below average and the day-time temperatures have been 0.7 degrees above, [the overall temperature] comes out at very close to average but it is still coldest winter in 15 years at Canberra airport," Mr Duke said.

"You've got reason to complain."

Mr Duke said to Friday there had been 158mm of rain at Canberra airport which was 24 per cent more than average.

"That makes it the wettest winter in 10 years," he said.

There were reports of snow in Canberra on August 12, with cold air and clear skies combining to make it an especially chilly winter.

"We did see stronger cold fronts move through, certainly than we have in recent winters," Mr Duke said.

"So that just means we had colder air move up from the Southern Ocean more frequently and it stuck around longer. We had some fairly prolonged spells of high pressure as well in between those cold fronts and that particularly affects the overnight temperatures with clearer skies and light winds overnight."

The average top temperature in spring at Canberra airport is 19.4 degrees and warmer temperatures are keenly anticipated. The outlook for the first day of spring this year at this stage is minus 1 to 16 degrees.

Rodney Toll of Rodney's Plant Plus at Pialligo said the nursery was getting busy with 'green thumbs' out in search of colour for their spring and summer gardens. 

"Spring is definitely the busiest time of the year for us," he said. "Trade is very quiet over winter when people hibernate and then they come out in spring."

Jarrod and Emma Hodder will be celebrating their first spring in their new home in Googong, which they moved into in December and where they have created a native garden from scratch. With two young children, Matilda, four, and Beau, six months, it has been a long winter.

"You feel happier [with the arrival of spring]. After being cooped up for so long, you can't wait to get outside," Mrs Hodder said.

And the biggest celebration of spring - Floriade - kicks off in Commonwealth Park on September 12.

Head gardener Andrew Forster said up to 25 gardeners had been busy in the preceding months planting 1 million bulbs and annuals.

The theme for Floriade this year was "reflection" with a nod to the centenary of Gallipoli. Mr Forster said a feature would be  three-dimensional raised garden beds including a rising sun and an aeroplane.

Spring for him meant the fruition of months of hard work.

"It's nice to get to the start of Floriade and see all the people come through the gates and for us to hear what people think," he said.