Northern Territory in 2015: Warm days, many months of below average rainfall

Very warm maximum temperatures and average minimum temperatures were experienced during 2015. Rainfall overall was slightly above average, however many months had below average rainfall. The year was characterised by:

  • average to above average rain overall
  • wettest December on record
  • well above average rain in January
  • above average maximum temperatures in most areas in most months
  • average to below average minimum temperatures over most parts
  • two tropical cyclones for the north coast.

The Northern Territory recorded warmer than normal temperatures during 2015, with the territory-wide average temperature marginally warmer than the historical average. During most months, much of the Territory experienced above average maximum temperatures. The standout months were March, October and November when large swathes of the Territory saw highest on record mean daily maximum temperatures. Heatwave conditions affected central Australia during March 2015, when the 5th highest March mean maximum temperature and 7th highest March mean temperatures were recorded in the NT. During October, the 2nd warmest October on record for the NT, several locations in the southern NT set new mean daily maximum temperature records. It was the Top End's turn in November when several sites broke the record for mean daily maximum temperatures, including Darwin Airport. Territory-wide, November had the 4th highest mean and maximum daily temperatures on record. While April and September saw parts of the NT recording below average mean daily maximums, it was only during January (lowest since 1984) and December that widespread below average mean maximum temperatures were recorded — primarily due to extensive rainfall across the Territory.

Mean minimum temperatures varied significantly from month to month. The most significant departures from average occurred in March, October and November when several sites in the southern Territory, and Borroloola, set records for highest mean daily minimum temperature; Yulara Airport exceeded its previous record in both October and November. The mean minimum temperature during November was the 8th highest recorded during any November in the NT. The mean minimum temperature during January was the lowest since 1992.

The area-average rainfall total for the Northern Territory in 2015 was 630 mm, 17% above the long term average. Most of the year's rainfall came during January (4th wettest January on record) and December (wettest December on record). In both months, it was an active monsoon period which was responsible for the extensive rainfall. Heavy rain fell over northern parts during the first two weeks of January. Also during January, a combination of surface and mid-level weather features brought significant rainfall to the Red Centre. Tropical moisture drawn into the southern half of the NT delivered 200-300% of the long term average January rainfall to many central Australian locations from the 7th to the 12th. Many sites territory-wide recorded their highest January daily and monthly total rainfall. During December, nearly all locations in the Territory received above average rainfall and a significant proportion of the northern half of the NT experienced record monthly rainfall. Many sites had record December daily and monthly totals, with some sites having their highest daily rainfall on record. The tropical moisture also found its way to southern parts of the Territory, generating heavy falls at several locations across the eastern NT and causing localised flooding.

Unseasonable rainfall occurred over parts of the Territory during June and August. At the start of June, an easterly trough generated heavy showers and isolated thunderstorms over the northern Arnhem District; several locations received their highest June daily rainfall on record. In the middle of the month an unusual winter thunderstorms generated heavy rain and widespread hail drifts over the Alice Springs region. A cloudband of tropical origin generated widespread rainfall over central NT towards the end of August; Tennant Creek Airport received its highest August daily rainfall on the 26th and its highest August total rainfall. The wet season started very slowly in the NT with below average rainfall during October and November; November rainfall was the lowest since 2009. During the second half of December rainfall increased markedly as an active monsoon trough established over the Top End. Moisture was drawn over much of the Territory leading to widespread falls through most parts.

Notable events in 2015

Tropical Cyclones and Lows

  • Tropical low (05U) moved from the northern Kimberley region of Western Australia to central western parts of the Territory on 10 January, producing widespread rainfall over the Lasseter and Tanami districts.
  • Lam crossed the northeast coast, east of Milingimbi, on 20 February as a category 4 severe tropical cylcone. Lam was the first severe tropical cyclone to affect the NT since Monica in 2006. Lam generated heavy rainfall over parts of the Arnhem, Carpentaria, Daly and Gregory districts, causing moderate flooding of the Waterhouse River.
  • Nathan made three landfalls on the NT north coast during March, after earlier crossing the Queensland coast just north of Cooktown. Nathan first crossed south of Nhulunbuy early on 22 March as a category 2 system, before impacting Elcho Island at similar intensity later that day. It had weakened to category 1 by the time it made landfall between Maningrida and Goulburn Island on 24 March. Many parts of the Top End were affected by heavy rainfall and flooding.
  • A tropical low which developed over the Carpentaria District, moved across the Top End to the northwestern NT and then back to the Carpentaria District, generated heavy rainfall and localised flooding, particularly over the Daly River region. Unofficial observations at Gourley (southeast of Daly River township) recorded 339 mm in the 24 hours to 9 am on 25 December and 618 mm in the 48 hours to 9 am on 26 December.

Thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and strong winds

  • Heavy rain fell at Gunn Point on 23 January with 117 mm in one hour to 3:30 pm.
  • A severe thunderstorm affected the Darwin region on 28 February, with flash flooding reported due to rainfall of 79.6 mm in 40 minutes at Marrara. Rapid Creek rose to minor flood level as a result, and Bagot Road was cut near the overpass.
  • Unseasonable thunderstorms over the Alice Springs region on 13 June produced heavy falls of hail up to 2 cm in diameter. Several areas reported large hail drifts persisting for many hours after the thunderstorms had passed.
  • Severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail affected the Simpson, Lasseter and Tanami districts on 3 November. A gust of 120 km/h was recorded at Rabbit Flat at 9:40 pm.
  • Severe thunderstorms affected the Gregory, Carpentaria and southern Daly districts on 14 November. Widespread damaging winds were reported with media accounts of "hundreds" of large trees felled around Katherine. Delamere recorded a wind gust of 96 km/h during the afternoon.


  • Two houses were destroyed in Howard Springs due to fires fanned by strong winds on 9 September.
  • Fires at a number of locations around Darwin burned cars and a caravan on 11 September.
  • Blazes over central Australia affected Tennant Creek and the West MacDonnell ranges near Alice Springs during November.

Further information

(03) 9669 4057

Extremes in 2015
Hottest day 44.1 °C at Yulara Airport on 5 Dec
Warmest days on average 35.9 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 28.4 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 13.2 °C at Kulgera on 25 Jul
Coldest night -5.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport on 20 Jul
-5.0 °C at Arltunga on 20 Jul
Coolest nights on average 12.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.5 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 30.4 °C at Tennant Creek Airport on 29 Nov
Warmest on average overall 28.9 °C at Bradshaw
28.9 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 20.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 2194.8 mm at Territory Wildlife Park
Driest overall 91.8 mm at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest day 283.8 mm at Bradshaw on 26 Dec
Strongest wind gust 174 km/h at Ngayawili on 19 Feb

ObservedAnomalyDecile rank
Map of Rainfall totals Map of Percentage of normal rainfall Map of Rainfall deciles
Map of Mean maximum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature
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 rankMaximum temperature rankMinimum 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
Years of
Old Delamere 162.6 on 26 Dec =162.6 on 18 Dec 1928 55
Douglas River 244.4 on 26 Dec 212.0 on 1 Feb 2014 47
Eva Downs 196.0 on 29 Dec 150.1 on 7 Feb 1969 44
Mango Farm 236.0 on 26 Dec 230.2 on 18 Feb 2011 36
Moroak 185.0 on 20 Feb 108.0 on 24 Dec 2010 25
Bonalbo 230.0 on 26 Dec 192.4 on 3 Mar 2000 20

Highest annual total rainfall for at least 20 years
Most recent
Alcan Minesite 2083.3 2473.2 in 1975* 1440.3

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

Record lowest annual total rainfall
New record
Years of
Yulara Airport 93.2 109.0 in 1996 24 274.6

Record highest temperature
New record
Years of
Gove Airport 38.0 on 10 Nov = 38.0 on 16 Dec 1967 39 30.7

Summary statistics for 2015
Maximum temperatures
Minimum temperatures
of annual
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.1 +0.4 39.8 18 Nov 21.1 +0.1 11.0 15 Jul 1369.8 1604.8 low 85%
Bradshaw 35.9 +0.7 42.0 27 Nov 21.8 +0.2 9.3 15 Jul 1193.4 1053.8 average 113%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.2   37.8 30 Oct 20.2   9.8 18 Aug 91.8 1212.0 v low 8%
Charles Point 31.2   36.0 9 Sep 23.7   16.0 19 Jul 1856.0
Darwin Airport 32.6 +0.6 36.9 8 Nov 23.1 -0.1 14.8 14 Jul 1647.4 1726.2 average 95%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.1 +0.4 41.9 26 Nov 20.6 -0.2 9.1 15 Jul 933.0 881.9 average 106%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.1 +0.4 36.3 9 Sep 23.0 -0.3 12.6 15 Jul 2186.8 1782.8 high 123%
Jabiru Airport 35.0 +0.7 41.2 8 Nov 22.9 +0.3 14.3 18 Aug
Katherine Country Club 34.8   42.0 26 Nov 20.0   6.8 15 Jul 1152.6
McCluer Island 29.9 -0.1 33.6 29 Nov 25.5 +0.1 20.1 14 Jul 1073.8 1176.2 average 91%
Middle Point 34.9 +0.6 41.6 8 Nov 20.0 -0.5 5.7 14 Jul 1371.6 1407.1 average 97%
Murganella Airstrip 32.8   37.9 15 Nov 21.1   8.7 14 Jul 1221.0
Noonamah Airstrip 34.2   39.5 8 Nov 21.6   10.5 19 Jul 1753.8
Oenpelli Airport 34.8   41.7 8 Nov 22.1   12.4 19 Aug 1131.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.7 +1.4 38.4 10 Nov 22.5 +0.3 13.4 19 Jul 1713.6 1996.1 low 86%
Point Fawcett 32.4 +0.8 36.3 8 Nov 21.9 -0.8 10.8 19 Jul
Point Stuart 32.8   37.4 8 Nov 22.3   11.3 14 Jul 1053.0
Port Keats Airport 33.3 +0.4 40.6 11 Nov     10.0 16 May 1719.6 1264.0 high 136%
Tindal RAAF 34.6 +0.8 42.2 26 Nov 19.6 -0.9 6.6 14 Jul 1173.4 1104.7 average 106%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 31.6   35.5 10 Dec 25.1   21.4 17 Feb 1616.0 1239.8 average 130%
Gove Airport 31.2 +0.5 38.0 10 Nov 22.1 -0.3 13.7 17 Aug 2105.8 1467.7 v high 143%
Groote Eylandt Airport 32.4 +0.3 39.9 10 Nov 20.8 +0.1 8.8 18 Jul 928.8 1316.4 low 71%
Milingimbi Airport 32.1 0.0 38.7 12 Mar 23.1 +0.2 13.4 14 Jul 1494.4 1078.1 high 139%
Warruwi Airport 31.3 +0.1 36.5 8 Nov 24.3 0.0 17.4 14 Jul 1395.2 1142.5 high 122%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Bulman 35.1   42.8 9 Nov 20.2   6.9 18 Jul 792.8
Centre Island 32.1 +0.9 39.9 1 Feb 23.9 +0.1 15.4 18 Jul 597.6 1036.7 low 58%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.0 +1.1 43.7 10 Nov 17.6 -1.6 3.5 21 Jul 1046.0 676.7 v high 155%
McArthur River Mine Airport 35.6 +1.1 43.8 29 Nov 19.8 +0.2 5.3 15 Jul 579.8 766.1 average 76%
Ngukurr Airport 35.5   43.7 27 Nov 20.3   5.9 15 Jul 762.4
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 34.3 +0.8 43.5 29 Nov 17.9 +0.1 3.5 21 Jul 471.0 510.0 average 92%
Victoria River Downs 35.1 +0.7 42.5 29 Nov 19.0 -0.5 3.4 18 Jul 748.7 650.0 average 115%
Barkly (district 15A)
Tennant Creek Airport 32.1 +0.2 41.9 29 Nov 19.7 -0.1 7.1 17 Jul 683.9 475.1 high 144%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 29.2 +0.4 42.5 19 Mar 12.7 -0.5 -5.0 20 Jul 334.0 282.6 high 118%
Arltunga 28.4 -0.2 41.6 19 Mar 13.3 0.0 -5.0 20 Jul 429.8 296.8 high 145%
Curtin Springs 30.6 +1.0 43.4 2 Nov 14.7 +1.2 -0.8 19 Jul 93.3 235.0 low 40%
Rabbit Flat 34.0 +0.4 43.4 20 Nov 15.8 -0.7 -2.5 20 Jul 400.4 481.7 average 83%
Territory Grape Farm 31.0 +0.2 42.4 20 Nov 14.2 -0.4 -3.0 20 Jul 340.0 319.9 average 106%
Yulara Airport 30.8 +0.8 44.1 5 Dec 14.9 +0.9 0.3 21 Jul 93.2 274.6 lowest 34%


The Annual climate summary 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. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

A climate summary is generally published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 5 pm on Tuesday 5 January 2016. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

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.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is used for temperature area averages.

Further information

(03) 9669 4057

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