Northern Territory in 2014: Year of extremes, but average overall

2014 had near-average temperatures and rainfall overall for the Northern Territory, but this masks the extremes experienced throughout the year.

  • Warmer than normal mean maximum temperature
  • Near-average minimum temperatures for the Northern Territory
  • Average to above-average annual rainfall for the Northern Territory
  • Active fire season for the northern savannah regions

The Northern Territory recorded warmer than normal temperatures during 2014, with the statewide average temperature 0.29 °C above the historical average (25.2 °C). The Territory's mean daily maximum temperature was 0.51 °C warmer than average (31.9 °C), but a degree cooler than 2013. The Territory experienced two notable heatwaves this year, both across the Top End; the first occurred in early January and the other in November. The latter half of January and February saw below normal temperatures primarily due to monsoonal activity that covered the northern half of the Territory. On 6 January, Darwin Airport set a new January daily maximum temperature record when the mercury rose to 36.0 °C, only to break this record again on the next day with 36.1 °C. Overall, minimum temperatures were very near the long-term average across the NT, but within the year was a stretch of cool minimum temperatures from July to September, generally warmer than normal minimums in November and a run of very warm nights in December.

The average rainfall total for the NT in 2014 is 673.1 mm; 24% above the long-term average. Most of this year's rainfall came early in the year when an active monsoon brought very wet conditions to most of the Northern Territory, however in the second half of the year a slow start to the wet season rainfall meant dry conditions across the NT. An active and prolonged monsoonal period set in around 10 January at Darwin and across the rest of the Top End shortly afterward. The monsoon produced continual, and at times, heavy rainfall over the Top End for most of January and February. Over the course of almost five weeks three tropical low pressure systems moved across the Territory including ex-tropical cyclone Fletcher which moved over the Barkly region and an unnamed tropical cyclone which made landfall near Wadeye (Port Keats). In contrast to the preceding two months, March 2014 was among the driest on record. There were two noteworthy rainfall events in the Northern Territory in April, and several locations along the Top End's east coast set new April rainfall records from the events. Dry season conditions began in May and continued into November, much longer than usual for many locations around the tropical north. Tennant Creek Airport went 230 days without any rainfall, only two days short of the record at that site. 2014 was only the second year on record that Darwin Airport did not receive any rainfall in September. Across the Northern Territory, September and October recorded very much below average rainfall. Wet season rainfall did not begin until late November, resulting in a dry start to the 2014-15 wet season.

Notable events in 2014

Tropical Cyclones

  • Fletcher briefly reached tropical cyclone strength over the Gulf of Carpentaria before crossing the Queensland coast south of Gilbert River Mouth, on the evening of 3 February. The system crossed the Northern Territory from 10 to 12 February as ex-tropical cyclone Fletcher, and brought heavy rainfall to the Barkly region
  • Gillian was named on 8 March but weakened while over the Gulf of Carpentaria and weakened to below tropical cyclone intensity on 10 March just prior to crossing the western coast of Cape York Peninsula. Ex-tropical cyclone Gillian passed across the Arafura and Timor Seas and eventually re-intensified into a tropical cyclone over the Indian Ocean
  • An unnamed tropical cyclone made landfall near Wadeye (Port Keats) on 3 February

Thunderstorms and strong winds

There were numerous severe thunderstorms across the Territory during 2014, with particularly high levels of thunderstorm activity during January, November and December. Some notable events included:

  • Thunderstorms over the western Top End developed into two distinct squall lines on 10 January. One passed through Douglas River; the other extended from Pine Creek to Cooinda and approached Batchelor and then entered the Darwin area. The line of thunderstorms continued across the Beagle Gulf to the Tiwi Islands early on 11 January
  • A severe thunderstorm near Uluru on 28 January produced a 104 km/h gust at Yulara
  • Heavy rain fell at Gunn Point on 29 January with a daily total of 165 mm to 9am on 30 January. 108 mm fell in one hour to 2:30 am
  • A Severe thunderstorm moved over Lajamanu on 30 November and produced a 98 km/h wind gust
  • A gusty thunderstorm moved over Territory Grape Farm on 2 December producing a wind gust of 104 km/h
  • A 96 km/h wind gust was recorded at Tennant Creek on 3 December along with some brief, but heavy rainfall

Bushfires

  • Beginning on 18 August, fires near West Elsey, Lakefield and Gorrie burnt nearly 1300 square kilometres of bushland over the course of ten days
  • Scott Creek station had a large fire burn 214 square kilometres in five days beginning on 28 August
  • Five large fires burnt in the Northern Territory in September, including an 870 square kilometre blaze near Emungalan Road and the Stewart Highway which began on 6 September
  • On 28 October a large bushfire started near Nitmiluk National Park and lasted for one week

Further information

Media
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Extremes in 2014
Hottest day 46.4 °C at Jervois on 2 Jan
Warmest days on average 35.0 °C at Victoria River Downs
Coolest days on average 29.0 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 7.5 °C at Alice Springs Airport on 13 Jul
Coldest night -6.0 °C at Arltunga on 7 Jul
Coolest nights on average 13.3 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.5 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 32.4 °C at Jervois on 3 Jan
Warmest on average overall 28.7 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 21.2 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 2422.7 mm at Walker Creek
Driest overall 117.4 mm at Jervois
Wettest day 262.0 mm at Walker Creek on 18 Feb
Strongest wind gust 104 km/h at Yulara Airport on 28 Jan
104 km/h at Territory Grape Farm on 2 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


Record highest daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Douglas River 212.0 on 1 Feb 206.4 on 5 Feb 1980 46
Walker Creek 262.0 on 18 Feb 197.4 on 4 Mar 2013 22



Record highest temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Brunette Downs 45.6 on 2 Jan 45.5 on 2 Dec 2007 55 33.5
Tennant Creek Airport 45.6 on 3 Jan 45.4 on 2 Dec 2007 46 31.9
Mango Farm 41.5 on 1 Nov = 41.5 on 9 Oct 2013 35 34.1
Pirlangimpi Airport 38.6 on 1 Nov 38.0 on 23 Sep 2013 35 32.3
Ali Curung 46.1 on 2 Jan 46.0 on 2 Dec 2007 27 32.3



Record lowest daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Yuendumu 8.1 on 13 Jul 8.2 on 5 Aug 1966 50 30.4
Territory Grape Farm 9.2 on 13 Jul 9.3 on 20 Jun 2007 24 30.8



Record highest annual mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.8 33.4 in 2013 27 32.3



Record highest daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 29.7 on 17 Dec = 29.7 on 10 Dec 2009 74 23.2
Brunette Downs 31.5 on 4 Jan 31.2 on 3 Dec 2007 55 18.8




Summary statistics for 2014
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2014
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2014
Mean
for
2014
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2014
Total
for
2014
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2014
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.1 +0.4 39.9 23 Nov     10.6 22 Aug 1425.6 1619.4 low 88%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.4   38.8 29 Oct 20.3   10.2 24 Jun 146.2
Croker Island Airport 31.8   36.9 23 Nov 23.7   16.4 24 Aug
Darwin Airport 32.6 +0.6 37.4 19 Sep 23.0 -0.2 13.0 23 Aug 1546.6 1727.2 low 90%
Douglas River 34.9 +0.7 41.5 18 Nov 19.8 0.0 5.8 23 Aug 1355.8 1248.2 average 109%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.1 +0.4 35.0 23 Nov 23.0 -0.3 12.3 18 Aug 1867.8 1757.6 average 106%
Jabiru Airport 34.7 +0.4 41.6 29 Oct 22.6 0.0 13.2 22 Aug 1825.8 1568.6 high 116%
Katherine Country Club 34.9   41.4 21 Nov 20.1   6.4 17 Aug 1132.9
Mango Farm 34.8 +0.7 41.5 1 Nov 20.1 -0.4 7.5 24 Aug 1788.1 1416.8 high 126%
McCluer Island 30.0 0.0 34.8 20 Dec 25.5 +0.1 20.3 23 Aug 986.2 1183.0 low 83%
Middle Point 34.6 +0.4 40.1 3 Nov 20.1 -0.5 6.8 23 Aug 1034.8 1409.8 v low 73%
Murganella Airstrip 32.7   38.2 16 Dec 20.8   8.5 23 Aug 1193.2
Noonamah Airstrip 34.3   38.9 28 Oct 21.3   8.0 23 Aug 1718.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.8 +1.5 38.6 1 Nov 22.2 0.0 13.2 18 Aug 1889.0 2003.0 average 94%
Point Fawcett 32.1 +0.6 35.7 17 Oct 22.0 -0.8 11.8 18 Aug
Point Stuart 32.5   36.3 15 Dec 22.3   12.3 23 Aug
Port Keats Airport 33.0 +0.1 38.9 8 Jan 21.8 0.0 11.8 30 Aug 1926.8 1228.9 v high 157%
Tindal RAAF 34.8 +1.0 41.4 1 Nov 20.0 -0.5 6.4 24 Jun 955.4 1102.2 low 87%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 31.7   36.7 31 Dec 25.1   20.9 3 Sep 1405.2 1221.0 average 115%
Gove Airport 30.9 +0.2 37.4 13 Dec 21.8 -0.6 12.3 22 Aug
Maningrida Airport 32.1   37.6 16 Oct 22.1   11.8 23 Aug 1140.8
Milingimbi Airport 32.2 +0.1 38.4 15 Dec 22.8 -0.1 12.9 23 Aug
Ngayawili 31.6 +0.2 35.8 15 Oct 22.8 0.0 12.6 23 Aug 861.8 1479.8 v low 58%
Warruwi Airport 31.4 +0.2 36.0 20 Dec 24.4 +0.1 18.1 3 Sep 1033.2 1139.5 average 91%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 34.3 +0.6 42.3 3 Jan 19.0 -0.6 4.4 1 Jul 900.4 919.8 average 98%
Centre Island 31.4 +0.2 39.6 13 Dec 23.7 -0.1 15.2 23 Jul 1432.4 1047.2 high 137%
Daly Waters Airstrip 34.3 +0.4 42.2 21 Nov 17.8 -1.4 2.3 22 Aug 1008.8 668.4 v high 151%
McArthur River Mine Airport 34.8 +0.3 43.0 2 Jan 19.9 +0.3 5.3 2 Jul 1147.5 769.8 high 149%
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 33.7 +0.2 44.5 3 Jan 17.5 -0.3 1.1 3 Jul 803.4 510.8 high 157%
Victoria River Downs 35.0 +0.6 43.0 20 Nov 18.9 -0.6 2.6 30 Jun 695.2 649.3 average 107%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs     45.6 2 Jan 19.2 +0.4 4.4 16 Aug 683.5 417.3 high 164%
Elliott 33.4 -1.2 43.9 3 Jan 19.2 +0.2 4.9 17 Aug 872.6 598.6 high 146%
Tennant Creek Airport 32.2 +0.3 45.6 3 Jan 19.9 +0.1 6.6 7 Jul 515.0 470.5 average 109%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 29.7 +1.0 44.9 13 Nov 13.3 +0.1 -3.0 3 Jul 251.4 281.9 average 89%
Arltunga 29.0 +0.4 43.6 2 Jan 13.4 +0.1 -6.0 7 Jul 211.6 294.8 average 72%
Curtin Springs 30.8 +1.2 43.9 14 Dec 14.7 +1.2 -2.4 10 Jul 172.6 237.6 average 73%
Jervois 31.5 +0.6 46.4 2 Jan 16.1 +1.5 -1.5 11 Jul 117.4 287.6 low 41%
Kulgera 29.1 +0.7 44.1 30 Jan 14.8 +0.9 -1.8 5 Aug 177.1 249.9 low 71%
Territory Grape Farm 31.2 +0.4 43.7 2 Jan 14.8 +0.2 -1.9 7 Jul 354.4 319.1 average 111%
Walungurru Airport 32.3   44.9 7 Dec 19.0   3.7 27 Jun 500.8 276.5 v high 181%
Yulara Airport 30.9 +0.9 44.4 1 Jan     -1.9 10 Jul 247.6 282.5 average 88%

Notes

The Annual Climate Summary is prepared to list 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, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

A Climate Summary is generally published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 9 am on Tuesday 6 January 2015. 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries