Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
– John Ruskin
If you don’t like the weather, come back in five minutes.
Tasmania lies between 40 and 44 degrees south latitude. In the northern hemisphere that’s a similar latitude to places like Toronto (Canada) and Vladivostok (Russia). But in terms of weather, that’s where the similarities end. Unlike the continental climate of those northern cities – and most of mainland Australia – Tasmania has a mild maritime climate.
With no part of the island further than 120km from the ocean, its weather is most strongly influenced by those bodies of water. Oceans warm up and cool down far less than land masses do, and this keeps Tasmania temperate all year round. So while the weather is changeable, Tasmania actually has less extremes than most other parts of Australia.
The state’s western half receives the brunt of the so-called Roaring Forties winds, and is generally wetter and cooler than the east. Altitude has a similar effect, with the highland areas experiencing more days of frost and snow, and often higher rainfall. Coastal areas generally have less temperature variation. Overall the mildest part of the state, and generally the driest, is the East Coast.
The key to weathering Tasmania’s weather is to be prepared. For general tourist activities, forecasts of wet or cool weather don’t have to make you change your plans unless there are road, boating or walker weather alerts
. If you take precautions (eg have warm and waterproof clothing) and listen to local advice, you can generally carry on doing whatever you have planned. If you’re planning more adventurous outdoor activities, you will need to be very well prepared. Be sure to read the more specific precautions at our Bushwalker's Weather Forecast
Overall you may end up being surprised by how many sunny and warm days you’ll experience in Tasmania, despite the theory that it’s the last stop before Antarctica!
Season By Season
While Tasmania doesn’t experience many weather extremes, it does have four distinct seasons. Below is a seasonal rundown of what you might expect state-wide – and in different parts of the state – during the different seasons.
Note: these are seasonal averages designed to help your trip planning. They are not up-to-date forecasts. These are found at the Bureau of Meteorology website www.bom.gov.au/weather/tas/forecasts/index.shtml
Photograph by James Cannell
Summer (December – February)
Days are at their longest, but the cooler sea temperatures moderate the number of hot days. As summer sets in, warmer days occur more frequently. But weather can still be highly variable, and snow may fall in highland areas at any time of the year. When high pressure systems persist, they can bring hot temperatures – as high as 40 degrees C. – and high fire danger ratings. There tend to be longer intervals between cold fronts, and showers are generally less frequent.
Visitor Tips for Summer
• Cover up against the sun, and use sunscreen
• Carry water when out walking
Photograph by Steve Johnson
Autumn (March – May)
Although days are getting shorter, the surrounding oceans only reach their maximum temperature in early autumn. This often means more settled weather. When high pressure systems persist over the state, they often bring cool clear nights and warm, clear, still days. However cold fronts still push through from the west and the southwest, bringing showers and occasionally snow. As days shorten, frosts become a feature on clear nights and in higher parts.
Visitor Tips for Autumn
• Take warm and waterproof clothing in case of cool or wet conditions
Photograph by Grant Dixon
Winter (June – August)
Days are at their shortest, and the sun at its weakest. However clear sunny days may still bring weather that feels surprisingly warm, especially in sheltered locations. As the ocean temperatures fall, high pressure systems migrate north, exposing Tasmania to more frequent cold fronts. These will bring showers, more frequently in the west and far south. Snow is more likely in the highlands, although skiers will tell you it’s never dependable. In clear weather frosts will be more frequent, and days crisp and clear.
Visitor Tips for Winter
• Always have warm and waterproof clothing handy
• Wear layered clothing that can be put on or taken
Photograph by Peter Grant
Spring (September – November)
As days lengthen and land masses warm, the contrast between the warming land and the cool sea brings a tightening of isobars and a strengthening of winds. So warmer days and more sunshine are often mixed with strong winds. Cold fronts can sweep in from the west or south-west every couple of days, bringing showers and cooler weather. Snow may still fall in the highlands, even if it usually melts quite quickly. Rainfall is generally higher than in summer or autumn.
Visitor Tips for Spring
• Wear layered clothing that can be put on or taken off according to conditions