Northern Territory in December 2010: Early start to Monsoon season

  • The monsoon arrives in Darwin in mid-December
  • Average to below average temperatures throughout the Northern Territory

Monsoon arrives in mid-December

The monsoon trough moved south over the Top End during the middle part of December, some 2 weeks earlier than normal. An early monsoon onset is typical during La Niņa events, which has been the dominant driver of weather during the second half of 2010.

Average to below average temperatures throughout the NT

December is typically a hot month across the NT, with maximum temperatures generally sitting in the mid to high 30's, and minimum temperatures in the low to mid 20's. This months average maximum temperatures have been close to average across the Top End, and between 1 °C and 3 °C below average in central and southern parts of the NT. Alice Springs Airport has had the lowest daily maximum temperature for the month, with 23.9 °C on the 10th. It also finished the month with an average overnight low of 18.1 °C, which is 2.1 °C below average.

Rainfall

A combination of the arrival of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) in Australian longitudes during the first 2 weeks of the month with the persistently strong La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, led to the onset of the Australian Summer Monsoon around the middle of the month. The timing of this monsoon, arriving about 2 weeks earlier than normal, is consistent with previous La Niña events. Darwin Airport recorded 24 rain days in a row between the 7th and 30th, which is the longest wet spell for December on record, the record being 21 consecutive days back in 1942.

The wettest overall was Geriatric Park with 616.6 mm, followed by Marrara with 566.6 mm, and then Yeuralba Ridge with 533.8 mm.

The wettest single day was at CDU Katherine Rural Campus with 161.4 mm on the 27th, followed by Mount Felix with 151.8 mm on the 29th, and then Centre Island with 127.6 mm on the 17th.

Temperature

Both maximum and minimum temperatures were average to below average across the NT.

The warmest on average was Rabbit Flat with 31.1 °C, followed by Kidman Springs with 30.9 °C, and then Bradshaw and Timber Creek with 30.7 °C.

The coolest on average was Arltunga with 25.3 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 26.1 °C, and then Territory Grape Farm with 27.2 °C.

Maximum temperature

This months average maximum temperatures have been close to average across the Top End, and between 1 °C and 3 °C below average in central and southern parts of the NT.

The hottest day was at Rabbit Flat with 44.1 °C on the 8th (also the hottest NT day for 2010), followed by 43.9 °C on the 9th and 43.2 °C on the 16th, all at Rabbit Flat.

No surprises that the warmest days on average were at Rabbit Flat with 39.1 °C, followed by Lajamanu with 37.4 °C, and then Yulara Aero with 36.5 °C.

The coolest days on average were at Point Fawcett, Dum In Mirrie AWS and McCluer Island, all with 31.7 °C, followed by Alyangula Police and Darwin Airport with 31.9 °C.

The coolest day was on the 10th, when Alice Springs Airport recorded 23.9 °C, Watarrka 25.3 °C, and Jervois 25.5 °C.

Minimum temperature

This months average minimum temperatures have been close to average across the Top End, and between 1 °C and 3 °C below average in central and southern parts of the NT.

The coldest nights were at Arltunga with 7.5 °C on the 1st and 8.6 °C on the 2nd, which sets a record for lowest and second lowest December minimum temperatures for anywhere in the NT. The next coldest night was at Jervois with 9.9 °C on the 1st.

The coolest nights on average were at Arltunga with 17.5 °C, followed by Kulgera with 18.0 °C, and then Alice Springs Airport with 18.1 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at McCluer Island with 26.6 °C, followed by North East Island with 26.5 °C.

The warmest night was at Centre Island with 29.8 °C on the 20th.

Wind

The strongest wind gust was at Yulara Aero with 91 km/h on the 7th, followed by Centre Island with 78 km/h on the 17th.

Further information

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Extremes in December 2010
Hottest day 44.1 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 8th
Warmest days on average 39.1 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest days on average

31.7 °C at Point Fawcett
31.7 °C at Dum In Mirrie
31.7 °C at McCluer Island

Coldest day 23.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport on the 10th
Coldest night 7.5 °C at Arltunga on the 1st
Coolest nights on average 17.5 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 26.6 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 29.8 °C at Centre Island on the 20th
Warmest on average overall 31.1 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest on average overall 25.3 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 616.6 mm at Geriatric Park
Wettest day 161.4 mm at CDU Katherine Rural Campus on the 27th
Highest wind gust 91 km/h at Yulara Aero on the 7th

Record highest December daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall
in December 2010 (mm)
Previous wettest
for December
Years of
record
Cdu Katherine Rural Campus 161.4 on the 27th 123.0 on the 5th in 1982 40
Gallipoli 109.4 on the 21st 79.2 on the 15th in 1987 35
Pine Creek Council 119.8 on the 13th 109.0 on the 22nd in 2009 10



Record lowest December mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for December 2010 (°C)
Previous coolest
for December
Years of
record
Average for
December
Alyangula Police 31.9 32.4 in 2000 27 33.9



Record lowest December temperature
Lowest temperature
in December 2010 (°C)
Previous coolest
for December
Years of
record
Average for
December
Jervois 9.9 on the 1st 11.5 on the 6th in 1995 38 21.3
Wollogorang 16.0 on the 3rd 17.1 on the 3rd in 2009 24 24.2
Black Point 13.7 on the 27th 21.2 on the 30th in 1996 17 26.2
Territory Grape Farm 11.2 on the 1st 12.5 on the 12th in 2002 14 21.0
Borroloola 18.3 on the 3rd 19.5 on the 3rd in 2009 14 25.4



Record lowest December mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for December 2010 (°C)
Previous coolest
for December
Years of
record
Average for
December
Kulgera 18.0 =18.0 in 1992 29 20.4
Territory Grape Farm 19.0 19.5 in 1995 14 21.0
Point Fawcett 24.9 = 24.9 in 2006 12 25.6
Dum In Mirrie 25.3 = 25.4 in 2006 11 26.1
Groote Eylandt Airport 24.0 24.1 in 2006 10 25.1


Summary statistics for December 2010
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Average Rank Fraction of
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 32.7 -1.0 36.8 6th 23.9 -0.2 21.8 2nd 287.8 280.6 average 103%
Bradshaw 36.2 -0.3 40.3 8th 25.3 -0.2 23.3 1st 263.4 170.4 high 155%
Cape Don 32.1   35.3 6th 26.1   23.3 26th 391.4 265.4 high 147%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.5   37.4 5th 23.2   21.7 3rd 326.0
Channel Point 32.0 -0.3 34.2 8th 24.4 -0.6 22.0 2nd 398.6 331.9 average 120%
Darwin Airport 31.9 -0.7 35.8 6th 24.5 -0.8 21.9 26th 393.4 250.4 high 157%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.6 -1.1 38.6 8th 24.4 -0.1 21.5 22nd 295.0 175.2 v high 168%
Douglas River 34.0 -1.0 37.8 5th 23.8 +0.2 21.1 26th 341.6 204.2 high 167%
Dum In Mirrie 31.7 -0.7 34.1 9th 25.3 -0.8 22.5 2nd 375.4 288.2 high 130%
Jabiru Airport 34.4 -0.6 38.5 5th 24.9 0.0 21.8 26th 260.8 227.0 average 115%
Katherine Aviation Museum 34.8 -1.2 39.2 6th 23.9 -0.7 21.2 25th 419.0 219.1 v high 191%
Mango Farm 34.1 -0.7 37.5 6th 23.3 -0.5 21.9 2nd 363.6 243.7 high 149%
McCluer Island 31.8 -0.3 34.4 6th 26.6 -0.4 23.6 2nd 260.6 223.9 average 116%
Middle Point 33.9   37.2 6th 23.8   22.1 2nd 456.6
Noonamah 33.7   37.1 6th 24.0   22.0 2nd 331.2
Oenpelli     37.9 5th 24.9 +0.4 22.3 26th 234.4 224.6 average 104%
Pine Creek Council 33.6 -1.1 37.4 5th 23.9 -0.4 21.9 26th 414.7 282.1 highest 147%
Pirlangimpi 32.8 +0.2 35.5 9th 24.9 +0.2 22.0 26th 448.4 350.4 high 128%
Point Fawcett 31.7 -0.6 33.9 8th 24.9 -0.7 22.4 16th 479.2 309.4 high 155%
Point Stuart 32.6   35.6 6th 24.7   22.9 26th 311.0 205.5 average 151%
Port Keats Aero 33.1 -0.3 36.9 9th 24.4 -1.3 22.2 2nd 401.0 146.4 v high 274%
Tindal RAAF 34.6 -1.0 39.3 6th 24.3 -0.5 21.3 1st 291.4 201.3 high 145%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Alyangula Police 31.9 -2.0 34.4 8th 25.5 -0.7 22.5 3rd 191.2 163.3 average 117%
Gove Airport 32.2 -0.7 34.6 1st 24.2 -0.4 22.8 17th 221.6 174.1 average 127%
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.3 -1.0 36.1 5th 24.3 -0.8 20.3 3rd 165.0 189.0 average 87%
Maningrida Aero 32.3   35.4 5th 24.8   21.5 16th 275.4
Ngayawili 32.4 -0.3 35.6 1st 25.0 -0.6 23.3 3rd 226.6 249.4 average 91%
North East Island 33.0   35.4 7th 26.5   23.6 29th 187.4 76.8 high 244%
Warruwi 32.3 -0.9 35.4 6th 25.6 -0.6 22.6 2nd 244.4 189.8 high 129%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 34.9 -1.6 40.5 5th 24.3 -1.1 18.3 3rd 258.2 127.2 high 203%
Bulman 35.1   40.2 5th 24.3   21.7 3rd 378.0
Centre Island 33.8 -0.8 37.4 14th 26.4 -1.0 23.4 21st 375.6 124.1 v high 303%
Daly Waters 35.4 -1.9 39.3 3rd 23.7 -0.6 15.6 1st 144.6 104.9 high 138%
Larrimah 35.0 -1.8 39.0 5th 23.6 -0.9 19.2 1st 292.5 137.7 v high 212%
McArthur River Mine 35.9 -1.9 40.7 5th 24.7 -0.2 18.5 3rd 232.6 119.3 v high 195%
Ngukurr 35.9 -2.1 40.9 5th 25.2 -0.3 22.4 1st 224.0 130.0 high 172%
Wollogorang 34.3 -2.5 38.6 5th 23.3 -0.9 16.0 3rd 158.9 162.1 average 98%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 36.4 -1.1 40.6 8th 25.5 +0.1 20.0 2nd 128.0 137.9 average 93%
Lajamanu 37.4 -0.6 41.5 9th 23.6 -0.6 16.4 2nd 81.6 75.3 average 108%
Timber Creek 36.3 -0.9 41.4 6th 25.1 -0.3 21.8 2nd 192.6 177.7 average 108%
Victoria River Downs 36.1 -1.7 39.1 5th 24.7 -0.4 19.2 2nd 98.4 117.2 average 84%
Wave Hill 36.4 -1.8 40.1 15th 24.1 -0.4 18.0 2nd 88.2 117.2 average 75%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 36.2 -2.3 41.0 15th 23.7 -0.7 15.6 1st 77.4 67.1 high 115%
Tennant Creek Airport 34.9 -2.4 38.6 15th 23.3 -1.6 18.0 2nd 99.8 67.4 high 148%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 34.0 -1.4 39.4 7th 18.1 -2.1 10.6 1st 68.2 37.1 high 184%
Arltunga 33.5 -0.8 38.0 29th 17.5 -2.9 7.5 1st 42.4 40.0 average 106%
Curtin Springs 36.2 -0.1 42.1 7th 19.5 -1.0 11.5 1st 8.0 29.8 average 27%
Jervois 35.5 -2.3 40.3 8th 20.4 -0.9 9.9 1st 57.0 38.7 high 147%
Kulgera 34.3 -0.7 41.0 7th 18.0 -2.4 10.5 1st 6.6 34.5 low 19%
Rabbit Flat 39.1 +0.7 44.1 8th 23.0 -0.7 17.2 22nd 11.8 79.5 low 15%
Territory Grape Farm 35.4 -0.9 39.3 7th 19.0 -2.0 11.2 1st 85.8 45.0 high 191%
Yuendumu 35.9 -0.3 41.0 8th 21.0 -0.5 13.6 2nd 40.6 46.0 average 88%
Yulara Aero 36.5 +0.2 43.0 7th 19.6 -1.1 12.8 1st 6.2 43.5 low 14%

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 9 am on Thursday 6 January 2011. 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 2009. 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