Northern Territory in May to September 2018: Warm days, cool nights. Lowest dry season rainfall since 1976

Throughout the dry season months of May to September in the NT this year, there was a recurring pattern of above average daytime temperatures, cooler than usual overnight temperatures and below average rainfall.

Seventh-lowest dry season rainfall on record

  • Averaged across the Territory, rainfall in the May to September period was only 10% of the usual amount. It was the 7th-lowest dry season rainfall total on record and the lowest since 1976.
  • There were sites in nearly all NT districts that received nil rainfall for the 5 months ending September 2018; from Batchelor in the north to Yuendumu in the south
  • Several sites had their lowest total May to September rainfall on record, while others, including Alice Springs Airport, had their lowest total May to September rainfall in over 50 years

Warm days throughout, cold nights in south

  • Territory-wide, the mean maximum temperature for the 2018 dry season was 1.11 °C above the long-term average
  • The Top End had its 3rd-highest mean maximum temperature on record, behind only 2016 and 2017; south of the Top End daytime temperatures were relatively milder but still above average
  • The mean minimum temperature across the NT was 0.24 °C below average; it was generally below average in all districts in the southern half of the Territory, while near-average in the north
  • Territory Grape Farm, north of Alice Springs, had its lowest May to September mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 33.2 mm, which is 75% of the long-term average of 44.5 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.4 °C, which is 0.9 °C above the long-term average of 31.5 °C. The warmest day was 36.0 °C on 23 September, and the coolest day was on 5 June when the temperature reached 29.5 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 21.0 °C, which is 0.1 °C above the long-term average of 20.9 °C. The coldest morning was 15.3 °C on 23 July, and the warmest morning was on 3 May when the minimum temperature was 25.7 °C
  • Darwin Airport had 47 dry season days when the daily minimum temperature dropped to below 20 °C; this is slightly below the average of 51

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 1.2 mm, which is 2% of the long-term average of 62.4 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 23.8 °C, which is 1.2 °C above the long-term average of 22.6 °C. The warmest day was 35.2 °C on 28 September
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 4.9 °C, which is 1.8 °C below the long-term average of 6.7 °C. The coldest morning was -3.8 °C on 13 July. The last time Alice Springs had a mean mimnimum temperature this low was in 2012.
  • Alice Springs Airport had a string of 161 consecutive days when nil rainfall fell, from 14 April 2018 to 21 September 2018; this is the longest such dry spell at this location.

Further information

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Extremes in May to September 2018
Hottest day 39.7 °C at Bradshaw on 15 Sep
Warmest days on average 34.5 °C at Douglas River Research Farm
34.5 °C at Oenpelli Airport
Coolest days on average 23.8 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Coldest day 15.1 °C at Arltunga on 18 Jun
Coldest night -6.1 °C at Arltunga on 15 Jul
Coolest nights on average 4.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 24.6 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 27.8 °C at McCluer Island on 4 May
Warmest on average overall 27.9 °C at Cape Wessel
Coolest on average overall 14.3 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 88.4 mm at Cape Wessel
Wettest day 43.4 mm at Port Keats Airport on 26 Sep
Strongest wind gust 76 km/h at Walungurru Airport on 29 Aug
76 km/h at Yulara Airport on 29 Aug

Monthly maps
Rainfall rankMaximum temperature rankMinimum temperature rank
May 2018 Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
June 2018 Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
July 2018 Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
August 2018 Map of Rainfall deciles Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature
September 2018 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 lowest May to September total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
May to September
Yuendumu 0.0 0.8 in 1961 64 69.4
Jervois 1.2 1.8 in 1970 52 59.3
Ormiston Gorge 3.3 3.6 in 1994 37 66.9
Territory Grape Farm 1.2 = 1.2 in 1994 30 51.0
Trephina Gorge 0.0 4.7 in 2000 25 65.4

Lowest May to September total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Average for
May to September
Alice Springs Airport 1.2 0.8 in 1961* 62.4
Maryvale 4.1 3.6 in 1961* 59.7

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a lower value has gone unreported




Lowest May to September mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
lower
Average for
May to September
Territory Grape Farm 5.8 5.1 in 1994* 8.1

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a lower value has gone unreported




Summary statistics for May to September 2018
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
May
to September
2018
Diff
from
average
Highest for
May
to September
2018
Mean for
May
to September
2018
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
May
to September
2018
Total for
May
to September
2018
Average
for
May
to September
Rank of
May
to September
2018
Fraction of
May
to September
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.5 +0.3 37.9 23 Sep 18.0 0.0 10.9 22 Jul 0 37.8 lowest 0%
Black Point 31.3 +0.6 34.0 17 Sep 22.6 +0.5 19.2 5 Jun 13.0 45.2 average 29%
Central Arnhem Plateau 30.9 +0.4 35.9 3 Sep 17.4 +0.1 10.9 5 Jun 0 19.4 v low 0%
Charles Point 30.2   36.0 6 May 21.9   16.6 23 Jul 24.8
Darwin Airport 32.4 +0.9 36.0 23 Sep 21.0 +0.1 15.3 23 Jul 33.2 44.4 average 75%
Delamere Weapons Range 32.2 +0.6 38.0 8 Sep 16.9 -0.1 8.9 23 Jul 0.2 10.8 low 2%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.5 +1.1 39.3 23 Sep 14.7 -0.6 6.4 23 Jul 0.2 21.2 low 1%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 31.8 +0.6 35.6 17 Sep 19.6 -0.8 12.3 24 Jun 23.8 44.5 average 53%
Jabiru Airport 34.1 +0.6 38.9 3 Sep 20.7 +0.5 15.6 5 Jun 0.6 34.7 low 2%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 34.2   38.4 29 Sep 19.4   13.1 23 Jul 0.2
McCluer Island 28.4 0.0 31.5 11 May 24.6 +0.6 21.9 6 Jun 22.2 65.4 average 34%
Middle Point 34.3 +0.5 38.9 23 Sep 16.3 -0.3 8.8 5 Jun 3.4 39.8 low 9%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.0   38.6 28 Sep 20.1   14.8 5 Jun 0
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 34.3   38.6 23 Sep 18.1   10.0 6 Jun 0
Murganella Airstrip 31.6   34.8 9 May 18.2   12.3 14 Aug 0
Noonamah Airstrip 34.0   38.5 23 Sep 18.2   9.8 5 Jun 10.2
Oenpelli Airport 34.5   39.1 18 Sep 19.9   13.9 4 Jun 1.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.8 +0.7 36.2 18 Sep 20.3 +0.4 15.2 5 Jun 34.4 63.0 average 55%
Point Fawcett 31.8 +0.9 35.1 22 Sep 18.8 -0.8 12.4 6 Jun 0.4 53.8 low 1%
Point Stuart 32.2   35.8 17 Sep 20.0   14.2 5 Jun 9.6 36.1 average 27%
Port Keats Airport 32.4 +0.2 38.0 22 Sep 18.2 -0.1 10.9 24 Jul 48.2 32.3 average 149%
Tindal RAAF 32.9 +0.8 38.5 19 Sep 14.5 -1.6 6.6 23 Jul 0 15.1 lowest 0%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 31.3   33.3 10 Sep 24.4   20.6 6 Sep 88.4 163.0 average 54%
Gove Airport 29.9 +0.9 32.9 21 Sep 21.0 +0.4 16.0 4 Jun 59.4 151.0 low 39%
Groote Eylandt Airport 30.6 +0.3 35.2 6 Sep 17.3 +0.4 10.2 29 Aug 6.6 50.3 low 13%
Maningrida Airport 31.5 +0.1 35.7 22 Sep 19.8 +0.1 13.4 4 Jun 21.0 36.5 average 58%
Milingimbi Airport 31.8 +0.7 34.9 22 Sep 20.7 +0.2 15.1 5 Jun 16.4 46.1 low 36%
Ngayawili 31.1 +0.5 34.8 22 Sep 20.9 +0.4 15.1 5 Jun 8.4 41.8 low 20%
Warruwi Airport 30.3 +0.5 33.1 6 Sep 23.2 +0.6 20.2 5 Jun 14.0 22.1 average 63%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 32.8 +0.8 38.2 15 Sep 13.5 -0.9 5.7 5 Jun 0.8 12.9 low 6%
Bulman 32.9 +0.2 37.9 18 Sep 16.5 +0.5 9.1 4 Jun 6.6 41.7 low 16%
Centre Island 28.6 +0.4 33.9 15 Sep 20.4 -0.1 16.9 23 Jul 6.4 21.4 average 30%
Daly Waters Airstrip 32.1 +1.1 37.8 7 Sep 11.8 -2.3 2.3 23 Jul 0 13.5 lowest 0%
McArthur River Mine Airport 32.9 +0.9 38.1 18 Sep 14.4 -0.2 5.1 9 Aug 0 16.1 lowest 0%
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 34.1 +0.3 39.7 15 Sep 17.8 +0.1 9.8 23 Jul 0 20.4 v low 0%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 33.6   39.3 15 Sep 17.8   10.3 9 Aug 0
Lajamanu Airport 30.8 +1.2 38.4 15 Sep 12.2 +0.2 2.7 21 Aug 0 21.0 lowest 0%
Victoria River Downs 32.6 +0.9 39.0 30 Sep 12.8 -1.2 3.7 14 Aug 0 16.5 lowest 0%
Wave Hill 31.4 +0.6 38.0 30 Sep 13.6 0.0 3.5 14 Aug 0 31.8 lowest 0%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 31.1 +0.2 38.6 7 Sep 14.1 0.0 5.4 23 Jul 0 21.4 lowest 0%
Tennant Creek Airport 28.3 +1.1 36.5 30 Sep 14.7 -0.2 9.1 23 Aug 0 29.2 lowest 0%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 23.8 +1.2 35.2 28 Sep 4.9 -1.8 -3.8 13 Jul 1.2 62.4 v low 2%
Curtin Springs 24.3 +1.2 35.0 14 Sep 5.8 -0.9 -4.6 13 Jul 2.0 62.0 v low 3%
Jervois 25.2 +0.4 35.6 28 Sep     -3.7 15 Jul 1.2 59.3 lowest 2%
Rabbit Flat 29.5 +0.6 38.1 30 Sep 8.7 -1.1 -0.4 21 Aug 0 31.2 lowest 0%
Territory Grape Farm 25.9 +0.5 34.9 28 Sep 5.8 -2.3 -1.2 11 Jul 1.2 51.0 lowest 2%
Walungurru Airport 27.1 +0.7 38.0 28 Sep 12.9 -0.2 3.3 4 Aug 7.0 54.3 low 13%
Yulara Airport 24.5 +1.0 35.8 28 Sep 6.0 -1.3 -2.7 28 Jun 7.4 61.8 low 12%

Notes

The Seasonal climate summary, generally published on the first working day of each month, 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 Monday 1 October 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