Northern Territory in 2017: a wet, warm year

The Northern Territory had another warm year in 2017; its fifth-warmest year for maximum temperatures with a record warm dry season. Most areas had above average rainfall for the year, with January and November particularly wet.

A wetter than average year overall

  • Averaged across the Northern Territory, total annual rainfall was 19% above average following several wet months through the year
  • A low pressure system situated south of the Top End resulted in heavy rainfalls during January, with the Territory's overall monthly total almost double the long-term average for January
  • During the first few months of the year, some sites in the top end and southern top end had their highest daily rainfall on record
  • July was record wet through the central districts as a deep trough and associated cloudband produced thunderstorms and showers
  • November was the wettest November since 2011 and the ninth-wettest on record
  • Labelle Downs to the southwest of Darwin had a very wet year with record monthly rainfall totals in January, February and November
  • In contrast to the wetter than average conditions overall, most of the Territory received no rainfall at all in August, which is unusual, even though August is usually the driest month

A record warm dry season contributes to a warm year overall

  • The Northern Territory's mean maximum temperature was 1.07 °C above average, the fifth-warmest year since comparable records began in 1910
  • The mean minimum temperature was 0.33 °C above average
  • Overall, the mean temperature (average of the maximum and minimum) was 0.70 °C above average: cooler than 2016 and well short of the record from 2013
  • July was the warmest on record in the Northern Territory for both mean temperature and mean maximum temperature, contributing to the warmest dry season on record in terms of maximum temperature
  • Southern parts of the Territory, including Alice Springs, also experienced some of the exceptional September heat that affected much of eastern Australia
  • A few sites in the Top End had their warmest night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record during October, though the record at these sites is short
  • The end of the year was warmer than usual, with December's mean daily maximum temperature the tenth-warmest on record
  • There was some cool weather during the year, with some sites observing their coldest day (lowest maximum temperature) for any time of the year due to rain falling into cool, dry southeast winds across the southern Territory on 11 April

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 2200.8 mm, which is 127% of the long-term average of 1728.8 mm, and ninth-wettest on record 
  • The warmest day for Darwin Airport was 36.9 °C on 16 September, and the coolest day was on 11 April when the temperature reached only 21.9 °C, its coldest day since 1968
  • Overall, both maximum and minimum temperatures were around half a degree above average

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 167.0 mm, which is 59% of the long-term average of 281.2 mm
  • Alice Springs had a September record run of seven consecutive days over 36 °C from 21 to 27 September, breaking the previous September record of five consecutive such days in 2003
  • Maximum temperatures were almost two degrees above average overall, with minimum temperatures close to average overall

Three tropical cyclones in the northern region

  • Tropical cyclone Alfred formed on 20 February and was the first tropical cyclone in the northern region since Nathan in March 2015
  • Tropical cyclone Alfred generated a wind gust of 113 km/h at Centre Island, the strongest wind gust of the year, as well as very heavy rainfall with Centre Island recording 461.2 mm between 19 and 21 February  
  • Tropical cyclone Blanche in March was the only system to make landfall, whilst tropical cyclone Frances formed over the Timor Sea in late April but had little impact on the Territory

Further information

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Extremes in 2017
Hottest day 45.8 °C at Jervois on 29 Dec
Warmest days on average 35.8 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 30.3 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 13.5 °C at Arltunga on 10 Jul
Coldest night -3.5 °C at Yulara Airport on 7 Jul
Coolest nights on average 13.3 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.9 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 32.5 °C at Jervois on 29 Dec
Warmest on average overall 29.1 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 22.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 2446.0 mm at Pirlangimpi Airport
Wettest day 384.0 mm at Point Fawcett on 5 Mar
Strongest wind gust 113 km/h at Centre Island on 20 Feb

Maps

Observed Anomaly Decile rank
Total
rainfall
Map of Rainfall totals Map of Percentage of normal rainfall Map of Rainfall deciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of Mean maximum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of Mean minimum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean minimum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature

Click on a map to show it full size in a pop-up window


Monthly maps

Rainfall rank Maximum temperature rank Minimum temperature rank
January Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
February Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
March Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
April Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
May Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
June Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
July Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
August Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
September Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
October Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
November Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
December Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature

Click on a map to show it full size in a pop-up window


Record highest daily rainfall

New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Montejinni 212.0 on 2 Jan 206.0 on 23 Jan 1987 47
Labelle Downs 275.0 on 24 Jan 232.0 on 13 Jan 2004 31
Point Fawcett 384.0 on 5 Mar 265.2 on 16 Feb 2011 22
Charles Darwin University 260.0 on 6 Feb 256.4 on 3 Jan 1997 20



Record highest annual total rainfall

New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Rosewood 1207.7* 1200.8 in 2000 117 658.7
Waterloo 1232.9 1107.4 in 1960 94 672.7

* note: there are some observations missing from Rosewood at the end of December, so the true annual total may be higher




Record lowest daily maximum temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Pirlangimpi Airport 23.6 on 11 Apr 24.2 on 20 Jun 2007 38 32.4
Point Fawcett 23.1 on 11 Apr 23.4 on 13 Jun 2011 21 31.7



Record highest daily minimum temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Delamere Weapons Range 29.4 on 13 Oct 29.0 on 5 Dec 2006 21 20.8
Bradshaw 30.2 on 22 Oct 29.9 on 29 Nov 2015 20 21.7



Summary statistics for 2017

Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2017
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2017
Mean
for
2017
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2017
Total
for
2017
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2017
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.8 0.0 38.5 12 Oct 21.6 +0.5 13.4 16 Jun 1304.4 1573.0 low 83%
Bradshaw 35.8 +0.4 42.2 16 Oct 22.1 +0.4 9.3 14 Jun



Croker Island Airport 32.0   35.6 20 Oct 24.3   17.4 27 Aug 1578.0


Darwin Airport 32.8 +0.7 36.9 16 Sep 23.5 +0.3 15.4 29 Aug 2200.8 1728.8 high 127%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.3 +0.5 41.5 28 Oct 21.0 +0.2 10.0 14 Jun 947.8 884.0 average 107%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.7 +0.3 40.8 17 Oct 20.2 +0.3 9.1 14 Jun 1482.6 1253.2 high 118%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.3 +0.5 36.8 5 Dec 23.4 +0.1 13.1 14 Jun 1697.6 1777.8 average 95%
Jabiru Airport 34.8 +0.4 40.0 14 Oct 23.4 +0.8 16.4 12 Jun 1417.2 1557.2 average 91%
McCluer Island 30.3 +0.2 34.8 2 Dec 25.9 +0.4 22.1 12 Jun 1547.0 1160.9 high 133%
Middle Point 34.5 +0.1 40.1 14 Oct 21.2 +0.6 10.2 31 Aug 1433.8 1393.9 average 103%
Murganella Airstrip 32.9   37.6 15 Oct 21.8   10.5 29 Aug 1544.4


Noonamah Airstrip 34.3   38.3 20 Sep 21.9   11.4 29 Aug 1834.0


Oenpelli Airport 34.8   40.6 14 Oct 22.9   13.9 29 Aug 1529.2


Pirlangimpi Airport 33.1 +0.7 36.7 16 Sep 23.0 +0.7 15.9 29 Aug 2446.0 2003.7 high 122%
Point Fawcett 32.5 +0.8 35.5 8 Nov 22.6 -0.1 13.4 29 Aug 2240.0 1621.1 high 138%
Port Keats Airport 33.2 +0.2 37.9 23 Oct 22.3 +0.5 13.9 1 Sep 1903.6 1302.0 high 146%
Tindal RAAF 34.5 +0.6 40.8 28 Oct 20.6 +0.1 8.6 13 Jun 1280.2 1097.0 high 117%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.5   37.4 25 Dec 25.5   22.9 1 Jul 1490.0 1239.2 average 120%
Gove Airport 31.6 +0.9 36.6 6 Dec 23.4 +1.0 16.2 28 Aug



Groote Eylandt Airport 32.3 +0.2 36.9 8 Dec 21.6 +0.8 11.7 28 Aug 1518.8 1314.8 average 116%
Maningrida Airport 32.5 +0.3 36.6 4 Dec 22.8 +0.4 14.2 29 Aug 1329.2 1255.2 average 106%
Milingimbi Airport 32.6 +0.4 38.1 24 Oct 23.6 +0.6 16.8 30 Aug 1650.6 1103.8 high 150%
Ngayawili 31.9 +0.4 36.3 24 Oct 23.5 +0.6 16.7 26 Aug 1728.0 1436.4 average 120%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 34.6 +0.8 42.0 15 Oct 20.0 +0.4 5.7 13 Jun 1175.8 915.8 average 128%
Bulman 34.7   41.0 28 Oct 21.0   10.0 27 Aug 1052.6 1090.1 average 97%
Centre Island 31.9 +0.6 39.3 29 Mar 24.4 +0.5 16.6 12 Jun 1430.4 1038.6 high 138%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.2 +1.3 42.4 12 Dec 18.2 -0.9 5.0 29 Aug 865.6 679.3 high 127%
McArthur River Mine Airport 35.4 +0.8 42.5 10 Dec 20.7 +1.0 6.1 13 Jun 922.6 764.3 high 121%
Ngukurr Airport 35.4   42.7 31 Dec 21.3   7.0 13 Jun 871.2


Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 34.7 +1.1 44.5 13 Dec 18.3 +0.4 4.3 4 Aug 516.4 511.1 average 101%
Victoria River Downs 35.0 +0.5 42.9 11 Dec 19.5 0.0 5.8 12 Jun 892.6 652.3 high 137%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 34.2 -0.3 41.5 28 Oct 19.6 +0.5 6.7 21 Jul 607.2 601.9 average 101%
Tennant Creek Airport 33.1 +1.2 42.0 27 Dec 20.2 +0.4 8.5 21 Jul 505.2 476.8 average 106%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 30.7 +1.9 43.6 24 Dec 13.3 +0.1 -2.9 11 Jun 167.0 281.2 low 59%
Jervois 32.2 +1.3 45.8 29 Dec 15.4 +0.7 1.4 1 Jul 299.6 290.8 average 103%
Rabbit Flat 34.4 +0.7 44.6 13 Dec 16.3 -0.3 1.4 9 Jun 456.2 482.4 average 95%
Territory Grape Farm 31.7 +0.9 42.2 24 Dec 13.9 -0.7 0.2 7 Jun



Walungurru Airport 33.1 +0.4 45.1 24 Dec 19.1 -0.2 3.4 12 Jun 292.6 305.1 average 96%
Yulara Airport 30.8 +0.8 44.1 24 Dec 14.1 0.0 -3.5 7 Jul 305.4 285.7 high 107%

Notes

The Annual climate summary, generally published on the second working day of the year, lists the main features of the weather in Northern Territory using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. More extensive discussion of significant weather events, along with later information and data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 11 am on Tuesday 9 January 2018. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

In some situations, some or all of the rainfall is in the form of hail or snow. In these cases the totals given are for the water equivalent: the depth of liquid water that results from melting any frozen precipitation. There can be significant 'undercatch' of snow in strong winds, meaning the true precipitation can be higher than that reported.

Averages for individual sites are long-term means based on observations from all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

Where temperature area averages are mentioned, they are derived from the ACORN-SAT dataset.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries