World Weather - Facts & Figures
Facts & Figures
This section will continue to grow as we discover new and interesting pieces of weather trivia, so please visit often. If you have an interesting weather fact that you
would like added here, please feel free to email it to us at the Gungahlin Weather Centre.
The lowest temperature recorded in the world is minus 89.6°C at the Vostok Scientific Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983. The Australian record low is minus
23.0°C recorded at Charlotte Pass (NSW) on 29 June 1994. Only Perisher Valley and Kiandra have ever fallen below minus 20°C. Other Australian cold spots have
been Gudgenby (ACT) minus 14.6°C, Shannon (TAS) minus 13.0°C and Mt Hotham (VIC) minus 12.8°C. Even Alice Springs (NT) has recorded a temperature of minus
The highest temperature recorded in the world is 58.0°C (136.4°F) at Al,Azizyah in Libya on 13 September 1922. The Australian record is 53.1°C (127.6°F) recorded
at Cloncurry (QLD) on 16 January 1889. Bourke (NSW) with 52.8°C and Mildura (VIC) 50.8°C are not far behind.
The worlds greatest temperature range at a single location is 105°C, from minus 68°C to 37°C recorded at Verkhoyansk, Siberia. The greatest recorded temperature
range in Australia is 57.2°C, measured in White Cliffs (NSW) where the maximum has risen to over 50°C and the minimum has fallen to minus 7°C.
Can heatwaves increase the murder rate? In New York in 1988 the temperature stayed above 32°C for 32 days and the murder rate soared by 75%. In Australia,
Marble Bar (WA) recorded maximum temperatures equaling or exceeding 37.8°C (100°F) on 161 consecutive days (between 30 October 1923 and 7 April 1924) - This
remains a word heat record. Also of note is the 333 consecutive days of temperatures above 32°C (90°F) recorded at Wyndham (again in WA) in 1946.
On January 22 1943, the temperature at Spearfish, South Dakota (USA) rose from minus 20°C (minus 4°F) at 7.30am to 7°C (45°F) at 7.32 am (a 27°C rise in just 2
The wettest place in the world (based on the average number of rainy days received each year) is Mt Wai-'ale-'ale in Hawaii. The summit is 1,569m (5,148ft) above
sea level and receives over 350 days of rain each year. The most consistently wet place in Australia is Waratah, (TAS) with an average of 314 'rainy days' per year.
The wettest place in the world (based on the yearly average total) is Mawsynram, India, which receives an average of 11,870mm (474.8 inches) of rain each year. In
Australia, Bellenden Kerr (NE QLD) received 11,251mm in 1979. With a massive 960mm of this total falling in just 24 hours on January 3/4.
On average, the wettest town in Australia is Tully (N QLD) with an annual average rainfall of 4,204mm. In NSW, the wettest town is Dorrigo with an average of
2,004mm per year.
The driest place on earth is Wadi Halfa in Sudan, with an annual average rainfall of less than 2.5 mm (less than one-tenth of an inch). The Driest place in Australia
is Mulka Bore, west of Lake Eyre (SA), with an average annual rainfall of 100mm (4 inches).
Whim Creek in Western Australia must surely hold a record for inconsistency with rain fall. It holds the Western Australian state record for a 24 hour fall (747mm
or nearly 30 inches) on 3 April 1898, but received just 4mm (0.16 inch) for the whole of 1924.
The most rain to fall in a single 24 hour period is 1,850mm (74 inches) at Cilaos (on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion) between 15 and 16 March 1952.
The amount of water held in the atmosphere at any time is sufficient to produce about 2.5cm (1 inch) of rain over the surface of the earth.
The total amount of precipitation to fall to earth in one year is 5,000 million million tonnes.
A rainbow was visible for 6 hours (from 9am to 6pm) at Wetherby, Yorkshire (UK) on 14 March 1994. This is rare as most rainbows last for only a few minutes.
Exmouth in Western Australia received some 322mm of rain in the first week of June 2002. 305mm of this total falling in just 24 hours on June 4. What makes this
rain so news-worthy, is that Exmouth's normal annual average rainfall is just 264mm (10.5 inches).
The strongest wind gust recorded on the surface of the earth is 371km/h (231 mph) at Mount Washington, New Hampshire (USA) on 12 April 1934. The Australian
wind record goes to Mardie in Western Australia, when winds gusted to 259 km/h (162 mph) during Cyclone "Trixie" on 19 February 1975. Similar winds were
probably recorded in Darwin (NT) during Cyclone Tracy in 1974, but we will never know exactly how strong they were because the instrument measuring wind speed
broke down after recording a maximum gust of 217 km/h (136 mph).
The fastest winds on earth are inside a tornado funnel. Winds here have been recorded at 480 km/h (300 mph).
The most violent tornado in recorded history struck on 18 March 1925, killing 689 people, injuring 1980 others, destroying 4 towns, severely damaging 6 others and
leaving 11,000 homeless across Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.
The windiest place in the world is Port Martin, Antarctica, which has an average wind speed over a year of 64 km/h (40 mph). It experiences gale force 8 winds for
over a hundred days a year!
The biggest clouds are cumulonimbus, climbing up to 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) high and holding up to half a million tons of water.
Sunbathing on sunny days with clouds in the sky can be dangerous. Clouds can reflect so much ultraviolet light from the sunlight they dramatically increase the
ultraviolet reaching the ground.
Snow and Ice
The most snow produced in a single snowstorm is 4.8 meters (15.75ft) at Mt Shasta Ski Bowl, California (USA) between 13 and 19 February 1959.
In Australia, snowfalls are common above 1,500m in the Alps during the winter, but there are no permanent snowfields anywhere on the continent. Light snow falls in
Canberra during most years, but it rarely accumulates to more than a few centimeters.
A single snowstorm can drop 40 million tons of snow, carrying the energy equivalent to 120 atom bombs.
Permanent snow and ice cover about 12% (21 million square km's) of the Earth's land surface. 80% of the world's fresh water is locked up as ice or snow.
Mt Killimanjaro in Tanzania is the only permanent snowcap within sight of the equator.
The largest snowflakes in the world fell across Fort Keogh in Montana (USA) on 28 January 1887. The flakes were measured at a massive 38cm (15 ins) across by
20cm (8 ins) thick.
The largest hailstone recorded fell on 14 April 1986 in Bangladesh weighing 1kg (2.25lbs). The hailstorm reportedly killed 92 people.
The largest piece of ice to fall to earth was an ice block 6 meters (20 ft) across that fell in Scotland on 13 August 1849.
Thunder and Lightning
At any particular time, there are approximately 1,800 thunderstorms occurring in the Earth's atmosphere.
A typical flash of folk lightning lasts for about 0.2 seconds.
Yuma in Arizona (USA) is the sunniest place in the world. It experiences an average of 4,055 hours of sunshine each year (out of a possible 4,456 hours). In
Australia, Darwin (NT) is the sunniest capital with an average of 8.5 hours a day. On the other end of the scale, Melbourne (VIC) has the dubious honour of being
Australia's least sunny capital with an average of 5.7 hours of sunshine each day.
Sea fogs persist for more than 120 days a year on the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, Canada. In Australia, Canberra wins the title of the 'foggiest' capital city with
an average of 47 fogs each year. The fogs, which are more common in winter, occasionally cause havoc with air travel by lingering into the early afternoon.
The tiny droplets of water that make up fog are so small that it would take seven thousand million of them to make a single tablespoonful of water.
In Australia, the most severe dust storms usually occur across the dry interior of the continent during the summer months. In Australia's capital cities dust storms are
somewhat of a rarity, but have, nonetheless, been responsible for causing significant inconvenience to city life. In May 1962, strong westerly winds resulted in such
a thick dust haze in Sydney, that Bankstown Airport had to close for almost 4 hours. Probably the worst dust storm to ever affect an Australian capital city hit
Melbourne one afternoon in February 1983. During this storm, which lasted for around 30 minutes, the centre of the city was plunged into almost total darkness.
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