Northern Territory in 2016: Hot, highly variable rainfall

It was a hot year in the Northern Territory, particularly in the first half of 2016. The Top End saw above average temperatures in all months, while it was generally cooler than usual in the southern NT from September. Rainfall was highly variable from month to month: the first four months were unusually dry, while it was much wetter than usual during the dry season months. The first three months of the 2016-17 wet season saw well above average rainfall across the NT.

Exceptional warmth across the Territory

  • Temperatures were above average overall, with the Northern Territory's annual mean maximum temperature 0.89 °C above average (9th-highest on record), mean temperature 0.99 °C above average and mean minimum temperature 1.10 °C above average (both 4th-highest on record)
  • Warmest January-to-June on record, and generally above average temperatures until October
  • Relatively cool in the south from September
  • The Top End had its warmest year on record, with several individual sites, including Darwin Airport, having their highest annual mean daily maximum, mean daily minimum or mean temperature on record
  • Numerous daily temperature records broken during an exceptional heatwave in March
  • Bradshaw's 40.2 °C on 1 May was the first time a temperature over 40 °C had been reported in May outside Western Australia, and its 37.2 °C on 7 June was the highest June temperature ever recorded in Australia
  • During autumn Darwin Airport recorded sixteen days with a maximum temperature over 35 °C and Alice Springs twenty-one days, as part of the Northern Territory's and Australia's warmest autumn on record
  • A very warm 2016 dry season, with the Territory having its highest mean daily minimum and third-highest mean temperatures in the May to September period, and several sites setting records

A dry end to the wet season, then a wet dry season

  • Near average rainfall in 2016, Territory-wide (18% above average), although rainfall at some sites in the northern NT were lowest on record or the lowest for at least 20 years
  • Unusually dry from January to April, with below average rainfall recorded in each month and the Territory-wide total rain 35% below average
  • The Top End had its second-driest January to April on record (behind 1952); many Top End sites had their driest January to April period on record
  • The 2nd wettest dry season on record for the Northern Territory; more than three times average rain in May, August and September and many sites had their highest total dry season rainfall on record
  • September was exceptionally wet in many parts of Australia, including the NT, which had more than seven times its average rainfall during the month, establishing a new September record
  • Rainfall associated with a monsoon burst which commenced on 21 December contributed to a wet start to the 2016-17 wet season (9th-highest on record, Territory-wide) with several sites in the NT's southwest having their highest October to December rainfall on record

Very quiet year for tropical cyclones

  • For the first time since 2012 and only the 4th time since 1964, no tropical cyclones were observed in Australia's Northern Region during the 2016 calendar year

A record warm year for Darwin

  • Darwin Airport recorded its highest annual mean daily maximum of 33.2 °C, mean daily minimum of 24.2 °C and mean temperature of 28.7 °C
  • Record warm temperatures in several individual months including January, February, March, April, May and June
  • Darwin's first night below 20 °C didn't happen until 21 June, the latest this has been observed since records began in 1941
  • Darwin Airport had its driest January to April period on record, then its wettest dry season since 1988; 736.6 mm of rain was recorded in the October to December period, one and a half times the long-term average

Further information

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Extremes in 2016
Hottest day 44.8 °C at Rabbit Flat on 4 Jan
Warmest days on average 36.8 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 29.5 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Coldest day 10.0 °C at Arltunga on 13 Jul
Coldest night -4.5 °C at Kulgera on 16 Jul
Coolest nights on average 13.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 26.7 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 31.9 °C at Victoria River Downs on 10 Dec
Warmest on average overall 30.1 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest on average overall 21.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 1901.3 mm at Walker Creek
Wettest day 231.6 mm at Walungurru Airport on 26 Dec
Strongest wind gust 98 km/h at Jabiru Airport on 2 Nov

Maps
ObservedAnomalyDecile 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 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
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Curtin Springs 128.0 on 27 Dec 104.6 on 26 Mar 1982 64
Andado 87.0 on 1 Jan 68.0 on 31 Dec 2015 38



Record lowest annual total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Alcan Minesite 678.3 892.9 in 1997 33 1417.2
Channel Island 911.6 1184.4 in 2005 28 1648.2

Lowest annual total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Annual
average
Humpty Doo Collard Road 1504.1 1380.6 in 1985* 1842.5
Nathan River 396.3 350.8 in 1990* 873.8

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




Record highest temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Borroloola Airport 44.2 on 6 Nov 43.9 on 15 Nov 2006 24 33.7
Channel Point 37.7 on 7 Oct 37.6 on 23 Oct 2008 23 31.3



Record highest annual mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 33.2 32.9 in 1998 73 32.0
Victoria River Downs 36.1 36.0 in 2013 46 34.4
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.7 = 35.7 in 2013 43 33.9
Centre Island 32.8 32.2 in 2013 40 31.2
Gove Airport 32.1 31.5 in 2013 35 30.7
Jabiru Airport 35.5 35.3 in 2009 33 34.3
McArthur River Mine Airport 36.0 35.8 in 1988 29 34.6
Tindal RAAF 35.5 35.0 in 2013 27 33.8
Douglas River 35.5 = 35.5 in 2013 22 34.3
Borroloola Airport 35.5 34.7 in 2013 20 33.7



Record highest daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Victoria River Downs 31.9 on 10 Dec 31.5 on 27 Oct 1976 51 19.5



Record highest annual mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 24.2 24.1 in 1986 73 23.2
Centre Island 25.0 24.8 in 1998 40 23.8
Jabiru Airport 24.0 = 24.0 in 2010 34 22.6
Pirlangimpi Airport 23.7 23.6 in 2010 30 22.2
McArthur River Mine Airport 21.9 21.4 in 2010 29 19.6

Highest annual mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Annual
average
Victoria River Downs 21.1 21.3 in 1992 19.5



Record highest annual mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 28.7 28.5 in 1998 73 27.6
Victoria River Downs 28.6 28.4 in 1992 43 27.0
Centre Island 28.9 28.3 in 2005 40 27.5
Gove Airport 28.0 27.6 in 1998 35 26.5
Jabiru Airport 29.7 29.4 in 2013 33 28.5
Pirlangimpi Airport 28.7 28.4 in 2010 29 27.3
Tindal RAAF 28.6 28.2 in 1986 27 27.1
Douglas River 28.3 28.1 in 1998 22 27.1



Summary statistics for 2016
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2016
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2016
Mean
for
2016
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2016
Total
for
2016
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2016
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.6 +0.9 38.7 3 Nov 22.3 +1.2 9.7 18 Jul 1302.4 1588.0 low 82%
Bradshaw 36.8 +1.5 42.7 28 Nov 23.4 +1.8 8.4 6 Aug 573.0 1019.4 v low 56%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.9 +0.8 37.9 5 Nov 21.5 +1.0 9.5 5 Aug 737.2 1168.9 low 63%
Darwin Airport 33.2 +1.2 37.5 8 Oct 24.2 +1.0 13.3 5 Aug 1345.8 1722.4 low 78%
Delamere Weapons Range 35.0 +1.3 41.5 7 Dec     9.1 6 Aug 903.6 880.0 average 103%
Douglas River 35.5 +1.2 40.5 30 Oct 21.1 +1.3 5.3 6 Aug 1182.0 1245.8 average 95%
Jabiru Airport 35.5 +1.2 39.3 19 Oct 24.0 +1.4 14.6 18 Jul 1311.4 1561.2 average 84%
Katherine Country Club 35.8   41.5 13 Nov 21.7   6.2 6 Aug 758.8
McCluer Island 31.1 +1.1 34.5 29 Nov 26.7 +1.3 20.5 16 Jul 530.2 1138.2 v low 47%
Middle Point 35.3 +1.0 38.9 16 Nov 21.9 +1.4 5.5 5 Aug 1169.4 1391.3 low 84%
Noonamah Airstrip 34.8   38.4 3 Nov 23.0   9.1 18 Jul 1319.4
Oenpelli Airport 35.6   39.4 2 Nov 23.6   12.4 18 Jul 1108.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.7 +1.3 36.7 1 Mar 23.7 +1.5 13.4 6 Aug 1880.8 1993.4 average 94%
Point Fawcett 32.9 +1.3 36.0 8 Oct 23.2 +0.5 10.2 6 Aug 1205.2 1521.0 low 79%
Point Stuart 33.2   36.3 16 Nov 23.9   10.2 5 Aug 1461.8 1235.2 average 118%
Port Keats Airport 34.0 +1.0 39.0 5 Oct 22.9 +1.1 10.8 18 Jul 1233.0 1261.9 average 98%
Tindal RAAF 35.5 +1.7 41.4 4 Nov 21.7 +1.3 7.3 5 Aug 691.6 1090.9 v low 63%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.9   36.6 3 Dec 26.2   21.8 18 Jul 976.6 1227.8 average 80%
Gove Airport 32.1 +1.4 36.9 27 Jan 23.8 +1.4 13.5 18 Jul
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.1 +1.0 38.8 13 Nov 22.3 +1.6 9.7 28 Aug 1085.4 1302.8 average 83%
Milingimbi Airport 33.4 +1.3 37.2 15 Nov 24.4 +1.5 13.8 5 Aug 839.6 1058.2 low 79%
Ngayawili 32.6 +1.2 36.9 15 Nov 24.1 +1.3 14.3 17 Jul 926.0 1419.2 low 65%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 35.5 +1.8 44.2 6 Nov 20.8 +1.2 5.6 5 Aug 575.0 903.4 low 64%
Bulman 35.8   41.5 2 Mar 22.1   8.2 5 Aug 982.8 1093.8 average 90%
Centre Island 32.8 +1.6 39.5 12 Nov 25.0 +1.2 14.6 15 Jul 728.0 1029.7 low 71%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.7 +1.8 43.1 7 Nov 19.2 +0.1 4.1 17 Jul 607.6 675.2 average 90%
McArthur River Mine Airport 36.0 +1.4 42.5 4 Nov 21.9 +2.3 7.7 6 Aug 534.6 760.2 low 70%
Ngukurr Airport 36.4   42.7 9 Nov 22.7   7.2 5 Aug 582.0
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 35.6 +2.1 44.1 8 Nov 20.0 +2.2 3.4 4 Aug 557.4 511.0 average 109%
Victoria River Downs 36.1 +1.7 43.0 29 Nov 21.1 +1.6 4.2 5 Aug 691.0 650.3 average 106%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 34.0 +0.5 42.5 22 Feb 19.7 +0.9 5.0 4 Aug 639.0 422.6 high 151%
Elliott 34.7 +0.2 42.5 30 Nov     4.5 4 Aug 570.2 601.8 average 95%
Tennant Creek Airport 32.9 +1.0 42.5 9 Nov     6.2 16 Jul 524.5 476.1 average 110%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 29.5 +0.7 42.6 24 Feb 13.9 +0.7 -4.0 15 Jul 377.8 282.8 high 134%
Curtin Springs 29.7 0.0 42.9 13 Feb 14.7 +1.2 -0.2 4 Aug 541.9 240.3 v high 226%
Rabbit Flat 34.7 +1.0 44.8 4 Jan 18.1 +1.6 -0.7 17 Jul 527.4 483.7 average 109%
Territory Grape Farm 31.2 +0.4 42.8 24 Feb 15.3 +0.7 0.3 4 Aug 422.2 323.8 high 130%
Yulara Airport 29.7 -0.4 42.3 13 Feb 14.8 +0.7 -0.5 17 Jul 532.8 284.9 high 187%

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 8 am on Thursday 5 January 2017. 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.

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

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries