Northern Territory in 2018: Another very warm year, rainfall near average

Temperatures across the Northern Territory in 2018 were significantly above average at nearly all locations. Daytime temperatures were especially warm in all districts. Rainfall in the northern half was generally above average, however, across the NT as a whole, rainfall was close to the long-term average.

The Australian annual climate statement provides a comprehensive summary of Australia's climate during 2018. Information about changes and long-term trends in Australia's climate can be found in State of the Climate 2018.

Very warm daytime temperatures, milder overnight temperatures

  • Territory-wide, the mean maximum temperature for 2018 was 1.56 °C above average, the second-highest on record and highest since the record-setting year of 2013
  • Daytime temperatures were above average during every month of 2018, with the wet season months (January to April and October to December) seeing the largest warm anomalies. December 2018 was a standout month at 3.28 °C above average, the highest ever mean maximum temperature recorded in the Territory during December
  • Some sites in the southern NT, including Yulara, had their highest mean daily maximum temperature on record
  • Many sites had their highest temperature on record, including Rabbit Flat in the Tanami District which had the highest temperature recorded in the Territory since 1990 with its maximum temperature of 47.1 °C on both 12 and 19 December. Alice Springs Airport recorded its highest temperature on record with 45.6 °C on 29 December
  • Across the NT in 2018, the mean minimum temperature was 0.65 °C above average: much of the eastern half saw above average overnight temperatures, while much of the southwest and southern Top End saw average to below average temperatures
  • Overnight temperatures were warmer than average during all wet season months, but the mean minimum temperature across the NT for the dry season (May to September) was about half a degree below average, thus moderating the annual anomaly for 2018
  • Several sites in the NT had their warmest night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record:
    • Walungurru Airport, in the central west, recorded the highest ever daily minimum temperature in the Northern Territory with 33.8 °C on 30 December
    • Darwin Airport recorded a minimum of 30.0 °C, for the first time ever, on 12 December
  • The Territory-wide mean temperature (combined maximum and minimum) was 1.11 °C, above average, the fifth-highest observed since records commenced in 1910
  • Rabbit Flat broke several annual records during 2018, including a run of 30 consecutive days over 40 °C days starting on 2 December (ending 4 January 2019, for a total of 33 consecutive days), exceeding the previous record of 22 consecutive such days set in 2008 (for details of other exceptional heat statistics recorded during December, see the December summary)

Wet in the north, dry in the south

  • South of about Elliott, most locations had below-average rainfall for the 12-month period; several sites had their lowest total rainfall in the last 25 years
  • The dry season (May to September) in 2018 was the seventh-driest on record, with the NT-wide averaged total only 10% of normal for the 5-month period
  • Many locations had record long consecutive days with nil rainfall: from Howard Springs in the greater Darwin region with 179 consecutive rain-free days between 21 April and 16 October, to Trephina Gorge, in the Alice Springs region, with 211 days between 12 March and 8 October. Alice Springs Airport had 161 consecutive rain-free days between 14 April and 21 September, exceeding its previous record of 157 days
  • Parts of the Top End, mainly around the northwest, northern Arnhem and Carpentaria districts had well above average rainfall during 2018
  • Averaged across the entire Northern Territory, the annual rainfall total was about 7% below average

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 1921.4 mm, which is 111% of the long-term average of 1725.1 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.8 °C, which is 0.7 °C above the long-term average of 32.1 °C. The warmest day was 37.3 °C on 1 November, and the coolest day was on 27 January when the temperature reached 27.2 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 23.5 °C, which is 0.3 °C above the long-term average of 23.2 °C. The coldest morning was 15.3 °C on 23 July, and the warmest morning was on 12 December when the minimum temperature was 30.0 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 167.8 mm, which is 60% of the long-term average of 279.7 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 30.8 °C, which is 2.0 °C above the long-term average of 28.8 °C. The warmest day was 45.6 °C on 29 December, and the coolest day was on 18 June when the temperature reached 16.1 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 13.4 °C, which is 0.2 °C above the long-term average of 13.2 °C. The coldest morning was -3.8 °C on 13 July, and the warmest morning was on 28 January when the minimum temperature was 29.2 °C

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Extremes in 2018
Hottest day 47.1 °C at Rabbit Flat on 12 Dec
47.1 °C at Rabbit Flat on 19 Dec
Warmest days on average 36.1 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 30.3 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 15.1 °C at Arltunga on 18 Jun
Coldest night -6.1 °C at Arltunga on 15 Jul
Coolest nights on average 13.4 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.8 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 33.8 °C at Walungurru Airport on 30 Dec
Warmest on average overall 29.1 °C at Bradshaw
29.1 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 22.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 2302.7 mm at Labelle Downs
Wettest day 286.4 mm at Humpty Doo Collard Road on 28 Jan
Strongest wind gust 131 km/h at Tindal RAAF on 5 Dec

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


Lowest annual total rainfall for at least 25 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Annual
average
Kidman Springs 607.6 360.9 in 1992* 758.5
Victoria River Downs 491.0 375.2 in 1992* 651.6
Riveren 357.7 292.4 in 1992* 613.9

* 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
Alice Springs Airport 45.6 on 29 Dec 45.2 on 3 Jan 1960 78 28.8
Curtin Springs 46.9 on 30 Dec 46.4 on 11 Jan 2013 54 29.7
Gove Airport 38.7 on 4 Dec 38.0 on 10 Nov 2015 42 30.8
Kulgera 45.5 on 29 Dec = 45.5 on 9 Feb 1986 39 28.5
Lajamanu Airport 46.2 on 12 Dec 45.4 on 8 Dec 2009 29 33.7
Watarrka 46.0 on 30 Dec 45.3 on 12 Jan 2013 29 30.5
Borroloola Airport 44.6 on 5 Dec 44.2 on 6 Nov 2016 26 33.9
Rabbit Flat 47.1 on 19 Dec 46.7 on 25 Jan 2013 23 33.7
Bradshaw 44.4 on 6 Dec 44.0 on 5 Dec 2009 21 35.4
Groote Eylandt Airport 40.7 on 6 Dec 39.9 on 10 Nov 2015 20 32.2



Record highest annual mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Yulara Airport 31.5 31.3 in 2013 29 30.1
Territory Grape Farm 32.4 = 32.4 in 2013 20 30.9



Record highest daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 30.0 on 12 Dec 29.7 on 17 Dec 2014 78 23.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 29.3 on 12 Dec 29.0 on 3 Dec 2007 39 22.3
Rabbit Flat 33.5 on 13 Dec 32.2 on 9 Dec 2009 23 16.6
McCluer Island 30.0 on 7 Dec = 30.0 on 28 Dec 2002 21 25.5
Ngayawili 30.5 on 7 Dec 30.3 on 4 Mar 2016 20 22.9



Summary statistics for 2018
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2018
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2018
Mean
for
2018
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2018
Total
for
2018
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2018
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport     39.6 12 Oct 21.2 0.0 10.9 22 Jul 1399.6 1564.4 average 89%
Charles Point 31.3   36.0 6 May 24.2   16.6 23 Jul 1585.0
Darwin Airport 32.8 +0.7 37.3 1 Nov 23.5 +0.3 15.3 23 Jul 1921.4 1725.1 high 111%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.7 +0.9 42.4 11 Dec 21.1 +0.3 8.9 23 Jul 734.4 875.7 low 84%
Douglas River Research Farm 35.3 +0.9 41.7 2 Nov 19.7 -0.2 6.4 23 Jul 1390.2 1250.3 high 111%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.5 +0.6 37.0 1 Nov 23.1 -0.2 12.3 24 Jun 1707.6 1778.3 average 96%
Jabiru Airport 35.1 +0.7 41.4 9 Nov 23.1 +0.4 15.6 5 Jun 1840.2 1564.9 high 118%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence)     39.4 12 Oct 22.2   13.1 23 Jul 2136.0
McCluer Island 30.3 +0.2 34.9 10 Dec 25.8 +0.3 21.9 6 Jun 1192.2 1162.5 average 103%
Middle Point 34.7 +0.3 39.6 24 Oct 20.6 0.0 8.8 5 Jun 1629.2 1407.8 high 116%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.6   40.1 10 Nov 22.4   14.8 5 Jun 2088.8
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 35.1   40.3 9 Nov 21.5   10.0 6 Jun 1930.0
Murganella Airstrip 33.0   38.8 6 Dec 21.2   12.3 14 Aug 1136.8
Noonamah Airstrip 34.4   39.2 11 Oct 21.8   9.8 5 Jun 1765.2
Point Fawcett 32.5 +0.8 36.1 29 Oct 22.5 -0.2 12.4 6 Jun 1617.8 1620.9 average 100%
Point Stuart 33.1   37.2 23 Oct 23.0   14.2 5 Jun 1620.2 1326.8 high 122%
Port Keats Airport 33.2 +0.2 38.0 22 Sep 21.9 0.0 10.9 24 Jul 1570.2 1317.8 average 119%
Tindal RAAF 34.9 +1.0 41.6 30 Oct 19.8 -0.7 6.6 23 Jul 835.8 1088.8 low 77%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.5   37.5 5 Dec 25.4   20.6 6 Sep 1775.4 1261.6 high 141%
Gove Airport 31.6 +0.8 38.7 4 Dec 23.0 +0.6 16.0 4 Jun 1257.4 1446.4 low 87%
Groote Eylandt Airport 32.7 +0.5 40.7 6 Dec 21.3 +0.4 10.2 29 Aug 1017.0 1299.1 low 78%
Maningrida Airport 32.4 +0.2 37.8 19 Dec 22.5 0.0 13.4 4 Jun 1323.0 1260.4 average 105%
Milingimbi Airport 32.8 +0.6 39.2 10 Dec 23.4 +0.3 15.1 5 Jun 1843.0 1156.6 v high 159%
Ngayawili 31.8 +0.3 35.7 1 Nov 23.4 +0.5 15.1 5 Jun 1564.4 1443.1 average 108%
Warruwi Airport 31.8 +0.5 37.3 23 Oct 24.8 +0.4 20.2 5 Jun 1243.0 1139.4 average 109%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 35.0 +1.1 44.6 5 Dec 19.5 -0.2 5.7 5 Jun 903.6 915.2 average 99%
Bulman 35.0   41.8 7 Dec 20.7   9.1 4 Jun 943.8 1077.9 average 88%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.1 +1.1 43.4 11 Dec 18.0 -1.1 2.3 23 Jul 751.6 680.8 average 110%
McArthur River Mine Airport 35.6 +1.0 44.3 5 Dec 20.3 +0.5 5.1 9 Aug 872.8 766.9 average 114%
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 36.1 +0.7 44.4 6 Dec 22.0 +0.3 9.8 23 Jul 524.4 986.4 v low 53%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 36.0   44.4 6 Dec 21.9   10.3 9 Aug 829.8
Lajamanu Airport 35.4 +1.7 46.2 12 Dec 18.8 +0.8 2.7 21 Aug 415.8 509.1 average 82%
Victoria River Downs 35.7 +1.2 44.7 11 Dec 19.5 0.0 3.7 14 Aug 491.0 651.6 low 75%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 34.9 +0.4 45.0 28 Dec 19.6 +0.5 5.4 23 Jul
Tennant Creek Airport 33.6 +1.7 44.5 18 Dec 20.5 +0.7 9.1 23 Aug 295.0 473.1 low 62%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 30.8 +2.0 45.6 29 Dec 13.4 +0.2 -3.8 13 Jul 167.8 279.7 low 60%
Jervois 32.3 +1.3 46.5 19 Dec     -3.7 15 Jul 176.8 288.5 low 61%
Rabbit Flat 35.0 +1.3 47.1 19 Dec 16.9 +0.3 -0.4 21 Aug 285.6 473.5 low 60%
Territory Grape Farm 32.4 +1.5 45.5 19 Dec 14.3 -0.3 -1.2 11 Jul 108.0 315.8 v low 34%
Walungurru Airport 33.8 +1.0 46.3 29 Dec 19.8 +0.5 3.3 4 Aug 169.2 296.1 low 57%
Yulara Airport 31.5 +1.4 46.1 30 Dec 14.2 +0.1 -2.7 28 Jun 211.4 283.0 average 75%

Notes

The annual climate summary lists the main features of the weather in the 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.
The Australian annual climate statement provides a comprehensive summary of Australia's climate during 2018. Information about changes and long-term trends in Australia's climate can be found in State of the Climate 2018.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 10 am on Friday 4 January 2019. 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