Northern Territory in December 2009: A wet month for the Top End, cooler in the south

Very heavy rains from the low that was to become Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence brought some record breaking falls to some stations accross the Top End, while eastern and southern parts of the Territory remained quite dry. The Alice Springs District did not receive much rain at all with just 11 mm falling at the Airport for the month. In some parts however, rainfall was 100 to 200 mm above average for December with the passage of the low during the middle of the month and the establishment of a trough towards the end of the month. Days were slightly warmer than average accross the Top End and Roper districts while the Barkly and Alice Springs districts were slightly cooler than average.

 

Darwin and Daly River regions

Very heavy rains fell during the second week of December as a tropical low passed over Darwin then across the Top End and into the Timor Sea to eventually become Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence. Many sites received well over 100 mm in just 24 hrs with some exceeding 300 mm over a 48 hr period. Temperatures remained low during this time although overall they were slightly higher for the month.

Rainfall

Rainfall was low across the Territory until about the middle of the month when rainfall began to pick up due to the tropical low and the establishment of a trough toward the end of the month. The Darwin-Daly District received about 100 mm more rain than an average December, while small pockets near Darwin had their highest total December rainfall on record. Some sites such as the Darwin Botanic Gardens, Humpty Doo, Elizabeth Valley and CSIRO Berrimah also had their highest total December rainfall for at least 10 years. Over the 48hr period from the 12th to the 13th, Darwin received 303 mm, Stokes Hill Wharf (city) 343mm and 339mm fell at Berry Springs.

The wettest single day was on the 13th, with 290.2 mm reported at Channel Island, followed by 285.0 mm at Darwin River Dam and 280.0 mm at Walker Creek.

Some sites had their highest December daily rainfall on record.

The wettest overall was 662.3 mm at Darwin River Dam, followed by 625.1 mm at Channel Island, followed by 621.8 mm at Berry Springs Rangers.

There was a chance that Cyclone Laurence would bring wet conditions to the Alice Springs district, but this failed to materialize, with many sites receiving just half of their average December rainfall.

The driest overall was at Walungurru AWS with no rainfall reported, followed by 3.0 mm at Palm Valley and 4.0 mm at Tilmouth Well. Alice Springs Airport received only 11 mm for the month, and that fell on just one day.

 

Maximum temperature

Temperatures during the day were about 0.5C to 1.0C warmer across the top half of the Territory - the Victoria River District reporting temperatures up to 1.5C warmer than climatology. In contrast, temperatures in the south where cooler than average by about 0.5 °C. The first week of December was especially hot, with little rain about. The hottest day was 46.0 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 8th, followed by 45.8 °C at Jervois and 45.6 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 9th.

The warmest days on average were 38.8 °C at Kidman Springs and Victoria River Downs, followed by 38.7 °C at Timber Creek and 38.6 °C at Lajamanu AWS.

The coolest days on average were 32.2 °C at Dum In Mirrie AWS and Point Fawcett AWS, followed by 32.3 °C at Channel Point and 32.7 °C at Cape Don AWS.

The coldest day was on the 11th, with 16.0 °C at Arltunga, 19.1 °C at Territory Grape Farm AWS and 21.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport.

Some sites had their highest December temperature on record. Some sites had their coldest December day (lowest maximum temperature) on record.

Minimum temperature

Minimum temperatures were about average for December, with the occasional warm spot particularly around the Top End, and a few cooler nights in southern parts.

The coldest night was on the 12th, with 12.1 °C at Kulgera followed by 13.2 °C at Arltunga. Alice Springs had 13.8 °C on the 2nd.

The coolest nights on average were 20.0 °C at Kulgera and 20.2 °C at Alice Springs Airport, followed by 21.1 °C at Territory Grape Farm AWS.

The warmest nights on average were 28.3 °C at Northern Endeavour AWS, followed by 27.4 °C at Centre Island AWS and 26.7 °C at Cape Don AWS.

The warmest night was 32.2 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 9th and Jervois on the 24th, followed by 31.0 °C at Northern Endeavour AWS and 30.6 °C at Walungurru AWS on the 8th.

Some sites had their lowest December temperature on record. Some sites had their warmest December night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record. Some sites had their highest December mean daily minimum temperature on record.

 

Other phenomena

A 127 km/hr gust was recorded on a passenger ship anemometer at Darwin Wharf on the 1st, several passengers were blown along the wharf, one passenger was injured. The storm also brought down power lines along the Stuart Highway from Berrimah to Darwin City. Power failures also occurred at Southport and Bynoe Harbour due to lightning strikes.

There was a period of gales on the 10th with damaging wind gusts associated with a low pressure system that passed through the Van Diemen Gulf during the morning. Several severe wind gusts occurred at Darwin Airport during the morning and some tree damage resulted.

The strongest wind gust for December was 119 km/h at Yulara Aero AWS on the 23rd, followed by 100 km/h at Batchelor Aero AWS on the 10th.

 

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
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Extremes in December 2009
Hottest day 46.0 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 8th
Warmest days on average 38.8 °C at Kidman Springs and Victoria River Downs
Coolest days on average 32.2 °C at Dum In Mirrie AWS
Coldest day 16.0 °C at Arltunga on the 11th
Coldest night 12.1 °C at Kulgera on the 12th
Coolest nights on average 20.0 °C at Kulgera
Warmest nights on average27.4 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 32.2 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 9th and Jervois on the 24th
Wettest overall 662.3 mm at Darwin River Dam
Wettest day 290.2 mm at Channel Island on the 13th

Record highest December daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall (mm) Previous highest
Years of
record
Darwin River Dam 285.0 on the 13th 208.4 on the 10th in 1998 41
Camfield 72.6 on the 22nd 70.0 on the 24th in 2003 40
Hodgson River 138.2 on the 22nd 99.0 on the 27th in 2004 36
Wave Hill 86.0 on the 20th 84.2 on the 24th in 2003 36
Channel Island 290.2 on the 13th 236.4 on the 10th in 1998 34
Litchfield 229.0 on the 13th 137.0 on the 20th in 2008 25
Stokes Hill 273.6 on the 13th 98.4 on the 30th in 2007 23
Batchelor Aero AWS 223.6 on the 13th 114.0 on the 21st in 2003 16
Walker Creek 280.0 on the 13th 157.6 on the 10th in 1998 16
Coolibah 73.6 on the 20th 69.8 on the 15th in 2008 14
Adelaide River Town 133.0 on the 13th 97.5 on the 28th in 2007 10
Lakefield 90.0 on the 14th 88.0 on the 31st in 2005 10
Pine Creek Council 109.0 on the 22nd 93.2 on the 22nd in 2003 10



Record highest total December rainfall
Total rainfall (mm) Previous highest
Years of
record
Average
Adelaide River Post Office 582.0 460.6 in 1998 45 246.1
Darwin River Dam 662.3 621.0 in 1998 39 267.1
Channel Island 625.1 570.4 in 1996 33 261.0
Nightcliff Pool 544.0 533.0 in 1965 23 173.5
Berry Springs Rangers 621.8 552.6 in 1996 19 341.2





Record highest December temperature
Highest temperature (°C) Previous highest
Years of
record
Average
Jabiru Airport AWS 39.6 on the 5th = 39.6 on the 1st in 2006 32 35.0
Mango Farm 40.5 on the 3rd = 40.5 on the 3rd in 2006 29 34.8
Timber Creek 43.5 on the 7th 43.4 on the 27th in 1992 28 37.1
Katherine Aviation Museum 41.5 on the 9th 41.4 on the 1st in 2006 25 36.0
Lajamanu AWS 45.4 on the 8th 45.0 on the 5th in 2004 17 38.0
Bradshaw AWS 44.0 on the 5th 42.8 on the 3rd in 2006 11 36.4



Record lowest December daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum temperature (°C) Previous lowest
Years of
record
Average
Douglas River 27.0 on the 13th 27.3 on the 23rd in 2003 19 35.0
Territory Grape Farm 19.1 on the 11th 24.0 on the 12th in 2000 17 36.3
Channel Point 25.5 on the 13th = 25.5 on the 8th in 1998 15 32.3
Dum In Mirrie AWS 27.0 on the 13th 27.3 on the 31st in 2003 11 32.4
McCluer Island AWS 28.9 on the 11th = 28.9 on the 20th in 2003 10 32.1



Record highest December daily minimum temperature
Highest daily minimum (°C) Previous highest
Years of
record
Average
Darwin Airport 29.7 on the 10th = 29.7 on the 3rd in 2007 68 25.3
Black Point 30.2 on the 9th 29.8 on the 9th in 2002 17 26.2
Rabbit Flat 32.2 on the 9th 29.8 on the 31st in 2002 13 23.8
Bradshaw AWS 29.2 on the 10th 29.0 on the 11th in 2003 11 25.4
Dum In Mirrie AWS 30.0 on the 10th = 30.0 on the 30th in 2002 11 26.1



Record lowest December temperature
Lowest temperature (°C) Previous lowest Years of
record
Average
Gove Airport 19.6 on the 3rd 19.7 on the 26th in 1969 30 24.6
Timber Creek 17.8 on the 4th = 17.8 on the 17th in 1981 28 25.4
Wollogorang 17.1 on the 3rd 17.6 on the 9th in 2002 24 24.2
Borroloola AWS 19.5 on the 3rd 20.2 on the 13th in 2002 15 25.4
Batchelor Aero AWS 19.9 on the 11th 20.7 on the 9th in 1998 13 24.1
Groote Eylandt Airport AWS 20.0 on the 4th 21.0 on the 1st in 2003 10 25.2



Record highest December mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) Previous highest
Years of
record
Average
Tindal RAAF AWS 25.6 25.5 in 1986 21 24.8
Bradshaw AWS 26.4 26.2 in 2002 11 25.4




Summary statistics for December 2009
Maximum temperatures (°C) Minimum temperatures (°C) Rainfall (millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Average
Rank Fraction
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero AWS 33.6 -0.1 37.8 5th 24.1 0.0 19.9 11th 576.2 259.5 v high 222%
Black Point 32.7 +0.3 34.5 3rd 26.4 +0.2 23.5 11th 239.3 208.1 average 115%
Bradshaw AWS 37.8 +1.4 44.0 5th 26.4 +1.0 23.8 14th 216.6 166.2 high 130%
Cape Don AWS 32.7   35.8 6th 26.7   22.8 11th 320.0 261.7 high 122%
Central Arnhem Plateau AWS 34.2   38.9 7th 23.7   21.7 27th 276.0
Channel Point 32.3 0.0 34.7 4th 25.2 +0.2 23.2 12th 533.3 321.6 v high 166%
Darwin Airport 32.9 +0.3 35.7 7th 25.4 +0.1 23.0 11th 457.2 247.3 v high 183%
Delamere Weapons Range AWS 37.0 +1.4 42.2 5th 24.8 +0.3 21.3 4th 130.8 179.0 average 73%
Dum In Mirrie AWS 32.2 -0.2 34.3 8th 26.1 0.0 22.8 7th 419.0 278.2 high 151%
Jabiru Airport AWS 36.1 +1.1 39.6 5th 25.2 +0.4 22.9 29th 246.0 226.4 average 109%
Katherine Aviation Museum 36.4 +0.4 41.5 9th 24.8 +0.3 22.3 31st 291.2 217.0 average 134%
Mango Farm 35.1 +0.3 40.5 3rd 23.7 -0.1 20.8 7th 326.5 240.8 average 136%
Middle Point AWS 34.7   38.3 3rd 24.2   22.4 11th 361.8
Noonamah AWS 34.2   37.3 3rd 24.5   22.9 6th 520.6
Pine Creek Council 35.5   39.3 3rd 24.6   22.9 15th 322.5
Pirlangimpi AWS 32.9 +0.3 36.0 3rd 24.5 -0.2 22.8 29th 617.8 343.3 v high 180%
Point Fawcett AWS 32.2 -0.1 33.9 5th 25.5 -0.2 23.2 5th 319.6 308.7 average 104%
Tindal RAAF AWS 36.4 +0.9 41.0 9th 25.6 +0.8 22.7 14th 154.6 203.2 average 76%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Gove Airport 33.5 +0.6 36.1 2nd 24.4 -0.2 19.6 3rd 52.2 177.7 low 29%
Groote Eylandt Airport AWS 33.7 -0.6 37.8 3rd 24.2 -1.0 20.0 4th 274.4 180.5 v high 152%
Maningrida Aero AWS 33.4   36.3 3rd 25.5   23.6 4th 150.4
Ngayawili AWS 33.3 +0.6 36.3 3rd 25.2 -0.5 22.6 2nd 61.2 268.2 low 23%
Warruwi AWS 33.2 0.0 36.4 3rd 26.4 +0.2 23.3 11th 251.6 189.1 high 133%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola AWS 37.9 +1.5 40.7 2nd 25.2 -0.2 19.5 3rd 27.6 133.8 low 21%
Bulman AWS 37.2   40.5 9th 24.8   19.7 4th 190.4
Centre Island AWS 35.0 +0.4 37.7 3rd 27.4 0.0 23.8 27th 71.0 125.4 average 57%
Daly Waters AWS 38.0 +0.7 42.6 9th 23.9 -0.4 15.4 3rd 128.4 104.3 high 123%
Larrimah 37.3 +0.5 41.5 8th 24.1 -0.4 18.6 4th 247.4 135.7 v high 182%
McArthur River Mine 38.4 +0.7 41.9 6th 25.6 +0.7 19.8 3rd 57.4 120.9 low 47%
Wollogorang 37.8 +1.0 41.5 7th 24.4 +0.2 17.1 3rd 84.6 164.4 low 51%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 38.8 +1.4 43.5 7th 25.5 +0.2 20.6 4th 83.4 139.3 low 60%
Lajamanu AWS 38.6 +0.6 45.4 8th 23.7 -0.5 18.6 3rd 80.0 75.2 average 106%
Timber Creek 38.7 +1.6 43.5 7th 25.3 -0.1 17.8 4th 106.5 180.2 low 59%
Victoria River Downs 38.8 +1.0 43.4 8th 25.4 +0.3 21.5 4th 74.6 117.6 average 63%
Wave Hill 38.4 +0.2 44.6 7th 24.4 -0.1 18.4 4th 209.2 114.6 v high 183%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 38.1 -0.4 42.5 7th 25.1 +0.8 20.4 2nd 133.8 66.6 high 201%
Elliott 38.5 -0.2 43.5 9th 24.4 0.0 17.7 3rd 189.6 93.5 v high 203%
Tennant Creek Airport 36.2 -1.1 43.0 8th 24.7 -0.2 21.5 3rd 59.0 67.6 average 87%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 35.6 +0.2 43.2 8th 20.2 0.0 13.8 2nd 11.2 37.5 low 30%
Curtin Springs 36.7 +0.4 44.0 7th 21.2 +0.7 15.5 25th 14.5 30.1 average 48%
Jervois 36.7 -1.1 45.8 9th 22.0 +0.7 15.4 13th 24.0 38.8 average 62%
Kulgera 34.7 -0.3 42.3 7th 20.0 -0.5 12.1 12th 36.6 34.5 average 106%
Papunya     43.0 8th 21.3   15.8 12th 5.2 33.0 v low 16%
Rabbit Flat 38.1 -0.4 46.0 8th 22.7 -1.1 15.4 5th 79.4 79.5 average 100%
Territory Grape Farm AWS 36.1 -0.2 43.5 8th 21.1 +0.1 14.0 2nd 28.0 45.8 average 61%
Watarrka 36.2 0.0 43.0 7th 22.5 +0.5 15.2 26th 25.9 37.2 average 70%
Yuendumu 36.6 +0.5 43.0 8th 21.7 +0.2 15.5 3rd 19.5 46.5 average 42%
Yulara Aero AWS 36.5 +0.2 43.8 7th 21.6 +0.9 16.1 25th 39.8 43.7 average 91%

Notes

A Monthly 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.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 10 am on Monday 4 January 2010. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from the years 1800 to 2008. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record in that time, 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.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries