Northern Territory in 2021: warm year for the Top End

Above average rainfall was recorded in the Top End, and in southern parts of the NT encompassing the Alice Springs District. Both mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures were warmer than usual across the Top End.

Above average rainfall in the Top End and Alice Springs districts

  • Rainfall for the Northern Territory in 2021 was 3% above the long-term average.
  • Above average rainfall was recorded in the Top End, and in southern parts of the NT encompassing the Alice Springs District.
  • An active monsoon in the second half of January led to significant rainfall across much of the Top End, with the north-east and coastal north-west observing above average January rainfall.
  • February started with an active monsoon across the Top End, and follow-up tropical troughs generated widespread persistent rainfall across much of the northern half of the NT, and with the bursts of heavy falls, some sites reporting their highest daily rainfall on record.
  • Much of the southern half of the Northern Territory had well above average rainfall during March; this was followed by a drier than average April for nearly all of the Northern Territory, and a dry end to the northern Australia wet season (October 2020 to April 2021). May was also very dry Territory-wide.
  • June was the wettest since 2016 for NT as a whole. July and August were both dry which is typical in the dry season. 
  • Rainfall for September was close to average overall, at the end of the dry season in the Northern Territory. October saw a large part of the NT receive above average rainfall.
  • A low pressure system over southern parts of the NT on 9 and 10 November generated moderate to heavy falls. Alice Springs reported a 100.2 mm on 10 November. November rainfall was 84% above average, and the eighth-wettest November on record for the NT as a whole.
  • December rainfall was above average across the Top End.

Warm across the Top End

  • For the Northern Territory as a whole, the annual mean temperature was 0.58 °C above average.
  • Territory-wide, the annual mean maximum temperature for 2021 was 0.84 °C above the long-term average, while the annual mean minimum was 0.32 °C above average, both were the lowest since 2015.
  • Large parts of the Top End of the NT and in parts of the Barkly District had daytime temperatures in their highest 10% of long-term records, and much of the north and east reported above average mean maxima. Remaining areas reported mean maxima close to average.
  • More than half of the north-west Top End and areas of the Carpentaria District had night-time temperatures in the highest 10% of records. In contrast, areas of the Simpson, Lasseter and Tanami districts had cooler than usual mean minima, with some areas within these districts reporting minima in decile 1 (lowest 10% of historical records). Territory Grape Farm had its lowest mean daily minimum temperature on record.
  • Mean maximum temperatures were close to average across the NT for January to April. May daytime temperatures were warmer than usual by just over 1 °C. June had mean maxima close to average.
  • July was very warm in terms in mean maximum temperature, at 3.31 °C above the long-term average and the warmest July on record for the NT. Mean maximum temperatures for August to October were 1.67 °C, 1.23 °C and 1.97  °C above the long-term average respectively, with October the seventh-warmest on record.
  • November was cooler than usual for the NT as a whole and1.34 °C below the long-term average. 2021 ended with the fourth-warmest mean maximum temperature on record for the NT in December.
  • Mean minimum temperatures were generally close to average for the NT in January to March, but below average in April by more than 1 °C. June had mean minima close to average.
  • July was warm in terms in mean minimum temperature, at 1.39 °C above the long-term average. The mean temperature for the NT in July was the fourth-warmest on record.
  • Mean minimum temperatures for August to October were all above the long-term average, with October the sixth-warmest on record and 2.0 °C above the long-term average.
  • November was very cool Territory-wide, and the coolest since 2010 in terms of mean minima.
  • In December, the mean minimum temperature was slightly warmer than usual, and the mean temperature for December was the seventh-warmest on record (+1.15 °C). Some warms nights during December saw Territory Grape Farm and Channel Point report their warmest night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record.
  • A few sites had their highest temperature on record in either September, November or December.

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 1787.8 mm, which is 104% of the long-term average of 1723.9 mm.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 33.0 °C, which is 0.9 °C above the long-term average of 32.1 °C.
  • Darwin Airport reported 44 days at or above 35 °C in 2021 (equal second-highest with 2020, with 45 days the record in 2019), compared to the long-term average of 12 such days per year using 78 years of data.
  • The warmest day was 38.0 °C on 21 September, the highest September daily maximum temperature on record.  Darwin Airport had record high mean maximum temperatures for both August and September. The coolest day was on 28 January when the temperature reached 27.1 °C.
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 23.9 °C, which is 0.7 °C above the long-term average of 23.2 °C. Darwin Airport had its equal highest October mean minimum temperature on record.
  • The coldest morning was 17.4 °C on 7 August, and the warmest morning was on 20 December when the minimum temperature was 29.4 °C.
  • Darwin Airport had 28 daily minimum temperatures below 20 °C during dry-season 2021, well below the long-term average of 51 such nights for the 5-month period.

Alice Springs

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs was 401.3 mm compared to the long-term average of 282.3 mm.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs was 29.1 °C, which is 0.2 °C above the long-term average of 28.9 °C.
  • Alice Springs Airport had 98 days of 35 °C or more in 2021, compared to the annual record of 137, and long-term average of 92 such days.
  • The warmest day was 43.2 °C on 18 December, and the coolest day was on 23 June when the temperature reached 13.7 °C.
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs was 12.9 °C, which is 0.3 °C below the long-term average of 13.2 °C.
  • The coldest morning was -2.2 °C on 10 June, and the warmest morning was on 19 December when the minimum temperature was 30.5 °C.
  • Alice Springs Airport had 7 sub-zero nights, all occurring in June or July, and below the long-term average of 13.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057

Extremes in 2021
Hottest day 46.6 °C at Rabbit Flat on 18 Dec
Warmest days on average 35.9 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 29.1 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Coldest day 13.7 °C at Yulara Airport on 22 Jun
13.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport on 23 Jun
Coldest night -2.7 °C at Watarrka on 6 Jul
Coolest nights on average 12.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 26.1 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 32.1 °C at Territory Grape Farm on 19 Dec
Warmest on average overall 29.4 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 21.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 2233.3 mm at Labelle Downs
Wettest day 327.4 mm at King Ash Bay on 19 Feb
Strongest wind gust 113 km/h at Territory Grape Farm on 8 Nov
113 km/h at Centre Island on 20 Dec
113 km/h at Cape Wessel on 28 Dec

Maps

Observed Anomaly Decile 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 rank Maximum temperature rank Minimum 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
Daly Waters Airstrip 163.8 on 22 Feb 156.8 on 30 Jan 2009 54
Point Stuart 174.6 on 25 Dec 150.0 on 25 Apr 2001 25
Humbert River 250.0 on 22 Feb 148.1 on 12 Mar 1964 21
Milingimbi Airport 235.0 on 26 Dec 211.8 on 31 Dec 2004 20



Record highest temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Black Point 36.8 on 2 Dec 36.4 on 15 Nov 2011 31 31.5
Channel Point 38.5 on 15 Nov 37.7 on 7 Oct 2016 28 31.4
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 38.1 on 21 Sep 38.0 on 18 Oct 2009 24 32.0



Record highest daily minimum temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Territory Grape Farm 32.1 on 19 Dec 31.1 on 26 Dec 2019 31 14.6
Channel Point 30.0 on 16 Dec 29.8 on 23 Nov 1998 28 22.4



Record lowest annual mean daily minimum temperature

New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Territory Grape Farm 13.5 13.6 in 2011 23 14.6



Summary statistics for 2021

Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2021
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2021
Mean
for
2021
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2021
Total
for
2021
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2021
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.1 +0.3 39.1 5 Oct 21.9 +0.7 13.2 25 Apr 1205.4 1514.9 low 80%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.5 +0.3 39.0 18 Oct 21.2 +0.6 12.0 22 Jul 1286.0 1161.9 average 111%
Charles Point 31.6   36.9 3 May 24.3   18.9 22 Jul 1678.6


Croker Island Airport 32.2   37.2 1 Nov 24.5   18.2 5 Jul 1461.2


Darwin Airport 33.0 +0.9 38.0 21 Sep 23.9 +0.7 17.4 7 Aug 1787.8 1723.9 average 104%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.3 +0.3 42.9 21 Oct 21.1 +0.2 10.1 13 Jun 811.0 850.2 average 95%
Douglas River Research Farm 35.1 +0.6 40.6 18 Nov 20.4 +0.5 7.8 21 Jun 1294.6 1246.7 average 104%
Jabiru Airport 35.2 +0.8 41.0 19 Oct 23.6 +0.9 16.0 23 Jul 1796.6 1554.0 high 116%
McCluer Island 30.4 +0.3 35.3 2 Dec 26.1 +0.5 22.4 12 Apr 1478.4 1166.1 high 127%
Middle Point 34.5 0.0 40.5 18 Oct 21.2 +0.6 9.6 7 Aug 1620.4 1386.1 high 117%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.7   40.3 19 Oct 22.8   15.4 7 Aug 1760.2


Mount Bundey South (Defence) 35.0   40.8 19 Oct 22.1   11.5 22 Jul 1183.4


Murganella Airstrip 33.4   38.5 18 Nov 21.9   10.9 7 Aug 1443.8


Noonamah Airstrip 34.6   39.8 2 Dec 22.1   12.0 7 Aug 1588.2


Oenpelli Airport 35.1   41.3 19 Oct 23.5   13.5 22 Jul 1670.6


Pirlangimpi Airport 33.3 +0.8 37.6 7 Oct 22.8 +0.5 15.5 21 Jun 2006.0 1986.8 average 101%
Point Fawcett 32.2 +0.4 36.4 4 Dec 22.8 +0.1 14.3 7 Aug 1845.6 1586.1 average 116%
Point Stuart 33.4   38.3 21 Oct 22.7   13.4 22 Jul 1742.6 1355.6 high 129%
Port Keats Airport 33.6 +0.5 39.8 17 Nov 22.4 +0.5 12.0 12 Jun 1376.8 1289.0 average 107%
Tindal RAAF 34.7 +0.6 41.8 3 Dec 21.0 +0.5 9.2 7 Aug 1163.4 1069.1 average 109%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.3   37.0 17 Nov 25.4   22.0 8 Apr 1827.0 1266.9 high 144%
Gove Airport 31.6 +0.8 36.4 13 Dec 23.8 +1.3 17.7 24 Jul 1566.0 1435.1 average 109%
Maningrida Airport 32.9 +0.6 37.4 13 Dec 22.9 +0.4 14.1 22 Jul 1558.0 1254.9 high 124%
Milingimbi Airport 32.8 +0.5 38.2 13 Dec 23.6 +0.5 16.2 5 Jul 1795.8 1175.5 high 153%
Ngayawili 31.9 +0.4 36.8 17 Nov 23.7 +0.8 17.5 4 Jul 1629.4 1411.1 average 115%
Warruwi Airport 32.1 +0.8 37.5 2 Dec 25.1 +0.7 19.9 7 Aug 760.6 1132.5 low 67%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 34.7 +0.7 42.0 20 Oct 19.8 +0.2 6.0 11 Jun 986.2 902.0 average 109%
Bulman 34.9 +0.1 41.3 4 Oct 21.1 +0.5 9.8 22 Jul 1371.4 1040.1 high 132%
Daly Waters Airstrip 34.6 +0.5 44.0 21 Oct 18.9 -0.2 4.8 12 Jun 678.8 678.1 average 100%
McArthur River Mine Airport 35.1 +0.4 42.1 19 Oct 20.2 +0.4 7.1 11 Jul 790.6 773.3 average 102%
Ngukurr Airport 35.4   43.4 14 Dec 21.1   8.5 20 Jun 1104.4


Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 35.9 +0.3 42.8 5 Oct 22.4 +0.6 10.5 12 Jun 1361.0 970.5 high 140%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 35.7   43.4 5 Oct 22.5   10.4 6 Jul 1145.2


Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 35.4   43.5 5 Oct 19.9   7.3 8 Aug 1045.8


Victoria River Downs 35.5 +0.9 44.9 16 Dec 19.9 +0.3 5.7 5 Jul 605.0 651.2 average 93%
Wave Hill 35.1 +0.8 44.8 16 Dec     3.5 11 Jun 484.2 678.1 low 71%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 34.6 0.0 44.9 16 Dec 20.1 +0.9 6.0 11 Jun 360.1 585.9 low 61%
Tennant Creek Airport 33.3 +1.3 43.7 15 Dec 20.4 +0.5 7.3 11 Jun



Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 29.1 +0.2 43.2 18 Dec 12.9 -0.3 -2.2 10 Jun 401.3 282.3 high 142%
Jervois 31.5 +0.5 45.9 19 Dec 15.1 +0.4 -0.2 11 Jun 158.6 285.3 low 56%
Rabbit Flat 34.3 +0.4 46.6 18 Dec     -1.0 5 Jul 318.2 465.3 low 68%
Territory Grape Farm 30.8 -0.2 44.6 19 Dec 13.5 -1.1 -1.8 11 Jun 331.4 314.3 average 105%
Walungurru Airport 31.9 -1.1 46.4 18 Dec 19.3 -0.2 4.6 24 Jun 261.2 270.3 average 97%
Yulara Airport 29.8 -0.4 45.4 18 Dec 14.4 +0.2 -0.3 6 Jul 260.2 268.1 average 97%

Notes

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. 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 9 am on Monday 7 February 2022. 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

Climate