Northern Territory in 2019: a very warm and dry year

The Northern Territory had one of its warmest and driest years on record in 2019. Averaged across the Territory, and throughout the year, the daytime temperature was the highest on record, the overnight temperature was the seventh-highest, the mean temperature was second-highest, and rainfall was second-lowest on record. Nearly every individual month of the year had an above average mean temperature and below average rainfall. Monsoon rainfall did not arrive util late January in the 2018-19 wet season and produced below average totals across the Northern Territory.

Second-driest year on record

  • The Northern Territory's rainfall in 2019 was 50% below average and the second-lowest on record, behind only 1961; monthly rainfall was below average for all months except for May which was the only month with above average rainfall
  • Most of the NT had annual rainfall in the lowest 10% of records, while large parts of the central and southern NT had their lowest rainfall ever recorded
  • The monsoon onset date at Darwin for the 2018-19 wet season was 23 January 2019 (equal third-latest on record) which saw a dry start to the year; subsequent monsoon bursts were relatively weak over the NT and failed to generate widespread rainfall between February and April
  • Monsoon onset was also late for the 2019-20 wet season was also late and failed to arrive before the end of 2019, further exacerbating the annual rainfall deficiencies
  • Many sites across the NT had their lowest annual total rainfall on record or lowest for at least 20 years
  • Despite the generally dry conditions, Cooinda Airstrip had its highest daily rainfall on record from an isolated thunderstorm in February, and Marqua, in the southern NT near the Queensland border, had a heavy rain event in March associated with ex-tropical cyclone Trevor

Record warm days

  • Overall, the Northern Territory's mean temperature was 1.49 °C above average and the second-highest on record, behind 2013; the only month to have a below average mean temperature was August
  • The mean daily maximum temperature in 2019 was the highest on record, at 1.96 °C above average
  • The monthly mean maximum temperature was record warm during January and March, at more than three degrees above average, while in December it was more than four degrees above average and the highest mean maximum temperature ever recorded in the NT; four other months also ranked in the warmest ten
  • January had a mean maximum of 3.70 °C above the long-term average, nearly a full degree higher than the previous record in 2013. Many sites in the southern NT had record-breaking daily maximum (and minimum) temperatures and consecutive runs of high temperatures during January
  • For the NT, December became the first month with the monthly mean maximum temperature more than 4.0 °C above the long-term average, since records commenced in 1910
  • The highest temperature recorded in the Territory in 2019 was 47.9 °C, at Rabbit Flat on 25 December. This was the third-highest temperature ever recorded in the NT
  • Tindal RAAF base, near Katherine, had 54 days of 40 °C or above in 2019, easily exceeding the previous record of 20 set in 2013. Tindal had never observed more than 10 consecutive days of 40 °C before 2019, but had a consecutive run of 16 such days in November and 15 in December. Tindal also exceeded its previous highest temperature of 42.5 °C, recorded in 2006, a total of six times in 2019, peaking with a maximum temperature of 43.1 °C on 6 December
  • Mean minimum temperatures throughout 2019 were somewhat milder than the maximums but still significantly above average: overall, the annual mean minimum was 1.02 °C above average, the seventh-highest recorded, with five months in the warmest ten on record and January the highest ever recorded mean minimum for that month
  • Many sites broke heat records in 2019, including for highest temperature on record, highest mean daily maximum temperature on record, warmest night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record and highest mean temperature on record
  • Tennant Creek Airport scored an undesirable quadrella in 2019 by recording its lowest rainfall, along with highest on record mean, mean maximum and mean minimum temperature

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 1076.4 mm, which is 62% of the long-term average of 1722.9 mm; this was the second-lowest since records commenced in 1941 and lowest annual rainfall since 1946
  • 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. The warmest day was 38.2 °C on 21 October (Darwin Airport's second warmest day on record), and the coolest day was on 4 June when the temperature reached 26.2 °C. Darwin Airport had a record number of days of 35 °C or above in 2019, with 45 (exceeding 2013's 29 such days), including a record run of 11 days in a row in December
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 23.2 °C, equal to the long-term average. The coldest morning was 12.7 °C on 25 June, and the warmest morning was on 27 Dec when the minimum temperature was 30.2 °C (the highest daily minimum ever recorded at Darwin Airport)

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 67.6 mm, which is 24% of the long-term average of 278.3 mm and the lowest annual total on record
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 31.1 °C, which is 2.3 °C above the long-term average of 28.8 °C, and highest on record. The warmest day was 45.7 °C on 25 December (highest on record), and the coolest day was on the 24 September when the temperature reached 13.6 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 13.6 °C, which is 0.4 °C above the long-term average of 13.2 °C. The coldest morning was -3.2 °C on 22 June (the coldest temperature observed in the NT in 2019), and the warmest morning was on the 17 January when the minimum temperature was 30.4 °C

Tropical cyclones

  • Two tropical cyclones affected the Northern Territory in 2019: TC Trevor, which made landfall near Port McArthur on 23 March, as a category 4 storm, and TC Wallace which reached cyclone strength on 6 April, shortly before moving out of the NT region and into Western Australia's area of responsibility

Further information

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Extremes in 2019
Hottest day 47.9 °C at Rabbit Flat on 25 Dec
Warmest days on average 36.8 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 29.8 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 13.0 °C at Territory Grape Farm on 24 Sep
Coldest night -3.2 °C at Alice Springs Airport on 22 Jun
Coolest nights on average 13.6 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.5 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 36.0 °C at Walungurru Airport on 26 Dec
Warmest on average overall 29.6 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest on average overall 22.3 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 1424.2 mm at Dum In Mirrie Airstrip
Wettest day 172.0 mm at Marqua on 25 Mar
Strongest wind gust 139 km/h at Centre Island on 23 Mar

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
Cooinda Airstrip 158.0 on 11 Feb 152.6 on 10 Jan 2001 29
Marqua 172.0 on 25 Mar 165.0 on 1 Mar 2010 20



Record lowest annual total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Victoria River Downs 166.6 241.8 in 1928 125 647.7
Hermannsburg 21.4 56.9 in 1915 101 232.0
Alice Springs Airport 67.6 76.8 in 2009 79 278.3
Tennant Creek Airport 63.6 170.0 in 1970 50 464.9
Elliott 97.6 215.8 in 1986 48 586.2
Newhaven 42.2 66.1 in 1963 48 325.0
Darwin Botanic Gardens 957.2 1023.0 in 1979 47 1780.2
Mount Skinner 58.8 81.3 in 1963 47 326.3
Brunchilly 112.0 145.4 in 2013 45 455.2
Darwin River Dam 937.3 975.2 in 1979 44 1608.1
Camfield 130.3 288.2 in 1992 41 608.0
Howard Springs Nature Park 1056.0 1335.0 in 2002 37 1861.8
Ormiston Gorge 62.0 73.7 in 1994 37 325.3
Humpty Doo Collard Road 1152.7 1380.6 in 1985 32 1843.9
Montejinni 279.5 288.0 in 1974 32 643.3
Maryvale 38.9 45.3 in 1961 31 192.3
Ross River 53.2 93.6 in 2009 31 379.1
Numery 26.7 83.6 in 2013 29 213.2
Territory Grape Farm 54.0 97.4 in 1994 28 306.5
Yulara Airport 27.0 93.2 in 2015 28 273.8
Mulga Park 37.2 104.4 in 1994 27 262.4
Watarrka 30.6 78.2 in 1996 27 303.6
Leanyer 1043.4 1184.6 in 1992 25 1761.9
The Granites 116.0 152.5 in 1992 24 382.7
Gilnockie 218.8 353.3 in 1992 23 819.0
Moolooloo 365.3 456.0 in 1992 23 754.3
Rabbit Flat 151.2 219.8 in 2008 23 459.5

Lowest annual total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Annual
average
Brunette Downs 112.3 89.4 in 1902* 419.3
Darwin Airport 1076.4 1024.7 in 1946 1722.9
Larrimah 357.9 328.5 in 1961* 851.4
Nutwood Downs 304.2 253.8 in 1961* 735.5
Legune 628.8 616.6 in 1961* 1091.9
Lajamanu Airport 116.2 87.2 in 1961* 501.3
Daly Waters Airstrip 277.0 225.9 in 1952* 672.6
Tanumbirini 230.0 81.2 in 1975* 722.8
Katherine Council 659.4 556.7 in 1970* 967.8
Rosewood 474.6 359.4 in 1985* 651.0
Old Delamere 330.0 255.5 in 1934* 721.5
Waterloo 332.1 147.0 in 1985* 668.0
Timber Creek 559.2 516.8 in 1992* 959.0
McMinns Lagoon 1317.6 1229.6 in 1992* 1880.4
Tindal RAAF 602.2 515.4 in 1996 1074.1
Keep River Rangers 494.9 418.8 in 1985* 861.3
Centre Island 522.4 482.8 in 1997* 1029.7
Batchelor Airport 946.8 816.4 in 1996* 1535.0
Bradshaw Homestead 579.8 532.4 in 1992* 916.7

* 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 45.7 on 25 Dec 45.6 on 29 Dec 2018 79 28.8
Jervois 47.2 on 25 Dec = 47.2 on 22 Dec 1990 53 31.0
Daly Waters Airstrip 45.6 on 27 Dec 44.5 on 15 Nov 2006 52 34.0
Kulgera 47.0 on 29 Dec 45.5 on 29 Dec 2018 40 28.5
Yulara Airport 47.1 on 24 Dec 46.4 on 11 Jan 2013 35 30.1
Douglas River Research Farm 44.1 on 20 Oct 42.6 on 20 Oct 2002 34 34.4
Tindal RAAF 43.1 on 6 Dec 42.5 on 10 Nov 2006 33 34.0
Lajamanu Airport 46.2 on 3 Jan = 46.2 on 12 Dec 2018 30 33.8
Watarrka 46.0 on 24 Dec = 46.0 on 30 Dec 2018 30 30.6
Borroloola Airport 44.7 on 26 Dec 44.6 on 5 Dec 2018 27 33.9
Batchelor Airport 41.9 on 20 Oct 41.8 on 16 Oct 2002 26 33.8
Rabbit Flat 47.9 on 25 Dec 47.1 on 19 Dec 2018 24 33.8
Delamere Weapons Range 43.6 on 6 Dec 43.0 on 1 Dec 2006 23 33.9
Point Fawcett 36.5 on 20 Dec 36.3 on 8 Nov 2015 23 31.8
Arltunga 44.5 on 25 Dec 43.9 on 6 Jan 2004 20 28.7



Record highest annual mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Alice Springs Airport 31.1 30.9 in 2013 77 28.8
Tennant Creek Airport 33.9 33.7 in 2013 49 32.0
Victoria River Downs 36.4 36.1 in 2016 49 34.5
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.8 35.7 in 2013 46 34.0
Tindal RAAF 35.5 = 35.5 in 2016 30 34.0
Yulara Airport 32.4 31.5 in 2018 30 30.1
Douglas River Research Farm 35.5 = 35.5 in 2016 25 34.4
Rabbit Flat 36.0 35.3 in 2005 22 33.8
Territory Grape Farm 32.5 32.4 in 2013 21 30.9
Lajamanu Airport 36.3 35.6 in 2016 20 33.8



Record highest daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Darwin Airport 30.2 on 27 Dec 30.0 on 12 Dec 2018 79 23.2
Daly Waters Airstrip 31.3 on 27 Dec 30.6 on 26 Nov 1965 52 19.1
Yulara Airport 32.5 on 25 Dec 32.0 on 18 Feb 2007 35 14.1
Tindal RAAF 29.5 on 22 Nov 29.3 on 7 Nov 1988 33 20.5
Lajamanu Airport 33.2 on 30 Jan 31.8 on 22 Nov 2009 30 18.0
Black Point 30.4 on 27 Dec 30.2 on 9 Dec 2009 29 24.1
Territory Grape Farm 31.1 on 26 Dec 30.1 on 24 Jan 1988 29 14.6
Point Fawcett 30.1 on 27 Dec 30.0 on 12 Jan 2003 23 22.7
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 30.4 on 27 Dec 30.2 on 21 Nov 2008 22 23.3
McCluer Island 30.3 on 27 Dec 30.0 on 7 Dec 2018 22 25.6



Record highest annual mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Tennant Creek Airport 21.1 = 21.1 in 1988 49 19.8

Highest annual mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Annual
average
Elliott 20.6 20.7 in 1986* 19.1

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




Record highest annual mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Annual
average
Tennant Creek Airport 27.5 27.3 in 2013 49 25.9
Elliott 28.1 = 28.1 in 1986 35 26.8
Yulara Airport 23.5 23.1 in 2013 30 22.1
Lajamanu Airport 28.1 27.8 in 2016 20 25.9



Summary statistics for 2019
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean
for
2019
Diff
from
average
Highest
for
2019
Mean
for
2019
Diff
from
average
Lowest
for
2019
Total
for
2019
Average
annual
total
Rank
of
2019
Fraction
of annual
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.3 +0.5 41.9 20 Oct 21.0 -0.2 8.7 25 Jun 946.8 1535.0 v low 62%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.7 +0.6 40.3 7 Dec 20.2 -0.4 8.1 26 Jun 722.8 1131.7 low 64%
Charles Point 31.2   35.3 24 Apr 23.9   15.2 25 Jun 1126.6
Croker Island Airport 31.6   36.1 21 Dec 23.9   16.4 24 Jun 1405.0
Darwin Airport 33.0 +0.9 38.2 21 Oct 23.2 0.0 12.7 25 Jun 1076.4 1722.9 v low 62%
Delamere Weapons Range 35.4 +1.5 43.6 6 Dec 21.4 +0.5 10.9 5 Jul 470.4 854.4 v low 55%
Douglas River Research Farm 35.5 +1.1 44.1 20 Oct 19.5 -0.4 4.7 25 Jun
Jabiru Airport 35.2 +0.8 42.3 19 Oct 22.6 -0.1 10.3 24 Jun 1140.8 1553.7 v low 73%
McCluer Island 29.8 -0.3 34.7 17 Dec 25.5 -0.1 20.3 6 Jun 975.6 1153.2 low 85%
Middle Point 35.0 +0.6 42.5 20 Oct 19.9 -0.7 4.8 25 Jun 927.8 1366.5 v low 68%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 35.0   42.6 20 Oct 22.3   13.4 25 Jun 860.2
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 35.4   43.0 20 Oct 21.3   6.1 25 Jun 919.4
Murganella Airstrip 32.9   39.0 4 Dec 20.4   7.4 30 Aug 1154.6
Noonamah Airstrip 34.7   41.6 20 Oct 21.4   6.5 25 Jun 768.4
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.6 +0.2 37.8 20 Oct 22.5 +0.2 12.8 25 Jun 1355.6 1989.3 v low 68%
Point Fawcett 32.4 +0.6 36.5 20 Dec 22.1 -0.6 9.9 25 Jun 709.4 1572.9 v low 45%
Point Stuart 33.0   38.3 26 Dec 21.9   10.6 26 Jun 1343.8 1328.0 low 101%
Port Keats Airport 33.5 +0.4 41.0 10 Oct 22.0 +0.1 10.5 15 Aug 800.0 1289.0 low 62%
Tindal RAAF 35.5 +1.5 43.1 6 Dec 19.9 -0.6 4.0 26 Jun 602.2 1074.1 v low 56%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.1   37.0 14 Dec 25.1   21.2 13 Jul 1009.6 1251.5 average 81%
Gove Airport 31.2 +0.4 38.0 4 Dec 22.7 +0.2 13.5 30 Aug 1373.8 1444.5 average 95%
Groote Eylandt Airport 32.2 0.0 39.5 26 Dec 20.6 -0.3 7.7 30 Aug 1122.4 1290.3 average 87%
Milingimbi Airport 33.0 +0.8 39.5 4 Dec 22.7 -0.4 12.1 30 Aug 756.8 1129.9 low 67%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Centre Island 31.8 +0.5 39.5 15 Dec 24.0 +0.1 15.9 24 Jun 522.4 1029.7 v low 51%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.8 +1.8 45.6 27 Dec 19.0 -0.1 5.3 30 Aug 277.0 672.6 v low 41%
McArthur River Mine Airport 35.9 +1.2 44.1 26 Dec 20.2 +0.4 6.1 14 Aug 469.8 760.5 low 62%
Ngukurr Airport 35.9   44.0 15 Dec 20.9   5.6 24 Jun 443.4
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 36.8 +1.4 44.1 6 Dec 22.5 +0.7 9.4 5 Jul 492.6 955.6 v low 52%
Lajamanu Airport 36.3 +2.5 46.2 3 Jan 19.9 +1.9 5.8 5 Jul 116.2 501.3 v low 23%
Victoria River Downs 36.4 +1.9 44.7 7 Dec 20.3 +0.8 5.2 24 Jun 166.6 647.7 lowest 26%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 35.7 +1.2 45.4 11 Jan 20.6 +1.5 7.3 24 Jun 97.6 586.2 lowest 17%
Tennant Creek Airport 33.9 +1.9 45.0 11 Jan 21.1 +1.3 8.1 22 Jun 63.6 464.9 lowest 14%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 31.1 +2.3 45.7 25 Dec 13.6 +0.4 -3.2 22 Jun 67.6 278.3 lowest 24%
Jervois 32.0 +1.0 47.2 25 Dec 14.9 +0.2 0.4 20 Jul 204.2 286.9 average 71%
Rabbit Flat 36.0 +2.2 47.9 25 Dec 17.3 +0.7 1.1 2 Jun 151.2 459.5 lowest 33%
Territory Grape Farm 32.5 +1.6 45.9 25 Dec 14.9 +0.3 -1.9 22 Jun 54.0 306.5 lowest 18%
Walungurru Airport 34.5 +1.7 47.7 25 Dec 20.7 +1.4 6.9 7 Jun 30.4 279.5 v low 11%
Yulara Airport 32.4 +2.3 47.1 24 Dec 14.6 +0.5 -1.5 21 Jun 27.0 273.8 lowest 10%

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 10 am on Monday 6 January 2020. 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