Northern Territory in January 2011: The heat returns to Central Australia

A record heat wave hit Yulara and others in the Alice Springs District while a Monsoon trough drizzled steadily across the Top End.

Yulara swelters in record heat wave

On the 27th, Yulara broke its highest temperature record when it reached a daytime maximum temperature of 46.3 ° C, only to break this record again the following day with 46.4 ° C. This new record falls just 1.9 ° C shy of the Northern Territory maximum temperature record. Yulara recorded an average maximum temperature of 40.9 ° C. Between the 14th and the 30th of the month, there were 17 consecutive days above 40 ° C including 11 consecutive days above 42 ° C.

Monsoon across the top end

A weak monsoon trough settled over the top end for most of the month, only moving north during the last week. Although there were no large rain events associated with this monsoon, it consistently rained on Darwin and most of the Top End throughout the month. Darwin measured 26 rain days during the month, with 23 of these falling consecutively between the 4th and the 26th.

Rainfall

Rainfall records are hard to break in January, which is one of the wettest months of the year throughout the NT. Across the Territory, most stations reported average to above average rainfall, with La Niña being the largest driver of this rainfall. In a strong La Niña pattern the Top End usually experiences above average rainfall; January (and the Wet Season) has been no exception.

The wettest overall was Marrara with 803.6 mm, followed by Channel Island with 709.6 mm, and then Geriatric Park with 691.6 mm.

The driest overall was Papunya with 1.3 mm, followed by Coniston with 6.5 mm.

Two sites had their lowest total January rainfall on record.

The wettest single day was at Limmen River with 200.0 mm on the 21st, followed by Geriatric Park with 164.8 mm on the 7th, and then Cape Wessel with 154.0 mm on the 17th.

Several stations had their highest January daily rainfall on record.

Temperature

Due primarily to the cloudiness associated with the monsoon trough, maximum temperatures north of Elliott were below average for most of the month. By contrast, south of Elliott experienced a heat wave in the last half of the month, highlighted at Yulara, which experienced 11 consecutive days above 42 ° C. Minimum temperatures followed a similar pattern to maximum temperatures, being below average across the Top End and eastern regions and above average in the south, with the far south west corner measuring record high minimum temperatures.

The warmest on average was Walungurru with 34.3 °C, followed by Curtin Springs and Yulara Aero with 32.9 °C, and then Kulgera with 32.2 °C.

The coolest on average was Central Arnhem Plateau with 26.5 °C, followed by Batchelor Aero with 27.4 °C, and then Darwin Airport and Channel Point with 27.6 °C.

Maximum temperature

The hottest day was at Yulara Aero with 46.4 °C on the 28th, followed also by Yulara Aero with 46.3 °C the day before. Both of these were record hottest temperatures at Yulara. The next hottest was at Walungurru with 46.2 °C on the 28th.

The warmest days on average were at Walungurru with 41.6 °C, followed by Yulara Aero with 40.9 °C, and then Curtin Springs with 40.8 °C.

The coolest days on average were at Central Arnhem Plateau with 30.3 °C, followed by Channel Point with 30.7 °C, and then Darwin Airport, Black Point, Dum In Mirrie and Point Fawcett which all had 31.0 °C.

The coolest day was at Territory Grape Farm with 25.2 °C on the 12th, followed by Delamere Weapons Range on the 11th and Pine Creek Council on the 22nd which both recorded 26.2 °C, and then Alice Springs Airport with 26.4 °C on the 12th.

Three locations had their highest January temperature on record. Yulara had their highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record.

Minimum temperature

The coldest nights were all at Arltunga with 16.3 °C on the 21st, 16.7 °C on the 23rd, and 17.0 °C on the 24th.

The coolest nights on average were at Arltunga with 20.4 °C, followed by Territory Grape Farm with 21.8 °C, and then Alice Springs Airport with 22.4 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at Walungurru with 27.0 °C, followed by Centre Island with 26.7 °C.

The warmest night was at Papunya with 31.6 °C on the 28th, and Walungurru with 30.9 °C also on the 28th.

Three sites, including Batchelor Aero, had their lowest January mean daily minimum temperature on record.

Wind

The strongest wind gust was at Walungurru with 96 km/h on the 28th, followed by North East Island with 94 km/h on the 21st, and then Yulara Aero with 91 km/h on the 2nd.

Further information

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Extremes in January 2011
Hottest day 46.4 °C at Yulara Aero on the 28th
Warmest days on average 41.6 °C at Walungurru
Coolest days on average 30.3 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Coldest day 25.2 °C at Territory Grape Farm on the 12th
Coldest night 16.3 °C at Arltunga on the 21st
Coolest nights on average 20.4 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 27.0 °C at Walungurru
Warmest night 31.6 °C at Papunya on the 28th
Warmest on average overall 34.3 °C at Walungurru
Coolest on average overall 26.5 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 803.6 mm at Marrara
Driest overall 1.3 mm at Papunya
Wettest day 200.0 mm at Limmen River on the 21st
Highest wind gust 96 km/h at Walungurru on the 28th

Record highest January daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall
in January 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest Years of
record
Cape Wessel 154.0 on the 17th 135.0 on the 27th in 1993 20




Record lowest total January rainfall
Total rainfall
for January 2011 (mm)
Previous driest Years of
record
Average for
January
Howard Springs Nature Park 135.7 152.6 in 1975 41 448.6
Jabiru Council 21.2 229.7 in 2005 10 425.0




Record highest January temperature
Highest temperature
in January 2011 (°C)
Previous warmest Years of
record
Average for
January
Curtin Springs 45.5 on the 28th 45.0 on the 18th in 2001 45 37.8
Kulgera 44.9 on the 28th = 44.9 on the 29th in 2003 29 36.7
Yulara Aero 46.4 on the 28th 45.1 on the 18th in 2001 23 38.6



Record lowest January daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in January 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest Years of
record
Average for
January
Alyangula Police 27.5 on the 21st 27.8 on the 29th in 1993 26 33.1
Kidman Springs 26.6 on the 11th 27.0 on the 3rd in 1997 14 35.9



Record highest January mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for January 2011 (°C)
Previous warmest
Years of
record
Average for
January
Yulara Aero 40.9 40.7 in 2008 23 38.6




Record lowest January mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for January 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
Years of
record
Average for
January
Batchelor Aero 23.4 23.6 in 2003 14 24.0
Point Fawcett 25.0 = 25.0 in 2000 13 25.8
Dum In Mirrie 24.9 25.0 in 2000 12 25.7



Summary statistics for January 2011
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Average
Rank Fraction of
January
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 31.3 -1.5 35.3 27th 23.4 -0.6 21.6 16th 554.6 281.6 v high 197%
Black Point 31.0 -0.5 33.3 27th     20.8 9th 381.2 293.5 high 130%
Cape Don 31.2   33.2 6th 25.7   23.5 23rd 358.2 217.4 v high 165%
Central Arnhem Plateau 30.3   33.8 29th 22.7   21.1 12th 300.8
Channel Point 30.7 -1.0 32.7 1st 24.4 -0.6 22.0 28th 471.4 403.2 average 117%
Darwin Airport 31.0 -0.8 34.2 27th 24.2 -0.6 22.6 26th 605.6 420.3 high 144%
Delamere Weapons Range 33.1 -1.1 35.8 30th 24.0 +0.2 22.2 31st 290.8 189.0 high 154%
Douglas River 32.2 -1.4 36.1 27th 23.6 -0.2 20.6 31st 451.8 274.4 v high 165%
Dum In Mirrie 31.0 -0.6 32.6 5th 24.9 -0.8 22.1 16th 427.2 325.3 high 131%
Jabiru Airport 32.5 -1.1 37.1 27th 24.4 -0.2 22.1 11th 408.0 351.2 average 116%
Katherine Aviation Museum 33.1 -1.6 35.6 30th 24.0 -0.2 22.6 29th 267.6 267.4 average 100%
Mango Farm 32.6 -1.0 36.0 27th 23.6 -0.2 21.2 31st 671.0 334.0 v high 201%
Middle Point 32.0   35.6 30th 23.8   21.7 11th 370.4
Noonamah 32.4   36.6 27th 23.9   22.4 16th 570.6
Oenpelli 32.4 -0.7 37.4 1st     22.5 11th 459.1 336.7 high 136%
Pine Creek Council 31.9   35.7 27th 23.5   20.6 31st 414.6
Pirlangimpi 31.6 -0.2 34.4 30th 24.3 -0.3 22.3 16th 571.4 403.7 high 142%
Point Fawcett 31.0 -0.6 32.8 5th 25.0 -0.8 22.8 29th 411.8 330.1 high 125%
Point Stuart 31.1   34.0 27th 24.7   22.8 31st 291.8 229.5 high 127%
Port Keats Aero 31.1   35.1 27th 24.5   22.6 26th 456.2
Tindal RAAF 33.0 -1.0 35.8 30th 24.2 0.0 22.3 22nd 177.2 274.0 low 65%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Alyangula Police 32.0 -1.1 33.8 9th 25.8 0.0 23.4 23rd 195.9 225.4 average 87%
Gove Airport 31.9 0.0 34.4 14th 24.5 -0.2 22.6 28th 179.2 281.1 low 64%
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.1 -0.1 34.6 28th 25.0 -0.1 22.1 27th 243.4 247.4 high 98%
Maningrida Aero 31.8   35.6 26th 24.6   22.4 23rd 310.6
Milingimbi 32.6   36.3 26th 25.1   23.2 11th 154.2
Ngayawili 31.6 -0.1 33.2 29th 25.6 0.0 23.7 11th 208.8 385.4 low 54%
North East Island 32.5   34.4 9th 26.6   23.6 2nd 124.0 113.0 average 110%
Warruwi 31.7 -0.3 33.8 26th 25.5 -0.1 22.9 23rd 161.2 260.3 low 62%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 34.0 0.0 36.8 5th 24.8 0.0 23.0 24th 124.6 190.0 average 66%
Bulman 33.7   36.5 30th 24.0   22.2 29th 252.8
Centre Island 33.6 0.0 36.2 6th 26.7 0.0 23.2 12th 122.8 219.7 low 56%
Daly Waters 33.9 -1.9 37.2 29th 23.5 -0.5 21.1 31st 145.4 161.2 average 90%
Larrimah 33.8 -1.5 36.5 5th 23.6 -0.4 21.5 29th 238.2 212.9 high 112%
McArthur River Mine 35.5 -0.4 38.5 5th 25.2 +0.4 22.5 6th 186.0 205.8 average 90%
Ngukurr 34.5 -1.0 36.8 16th 24.5 -0.3 22.7 6th 330.5 180.5 high 183%
Wollogorang 35.0 +0.1 37.7 15th 24.4 +0.2 21.6 23rd 194.9 223.1 average 87%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 34.3 -1.6 37.7 30th 24.6 -0.4 21.6 20th 265.2 168.8 high 157%
Lajamanu 36.3 -0.8 42.6 30th 23.8 -0.2 21.2 12th 132.6 143.8 average 92%
Timber Creek 34.0 -1.9 37.7 30th 24.4 -0.6 21.3 28th 376.9 223.1 v high 169%
Victoria River Downs 34.3 -2.3 37.5 30th 24.5 -0.4 22.9 28th 261.2 152.9 high 171%
Wave Hill 34.8 -2.2 40.0 30th 24.1 -0.2 21.7 31st 194.9 150.8 high 129%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 35.7 -1.3 40.0 29th 24.1 -0.4 21.5 13th 175.2 106.4 high 165%
Tennant Creek Airport 35.9 -0.8 41.1 27th 24.1 -0.9 20.9 21st 75.4 113.5 average 66%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 37.3 +0.9 43.0 27th 22.4 +1.0 17.5 16th 61.8 37.2 high 166%
Arltunga 36.2   40.2 27th 20.4   16.3 21st 135.2 39.9 v high 339%
Curtin Springs 40.8 +3.0 45.5 28th 25.0 +2.9 19.9 5th 10.0 28.4 average 35%
Kulgera 39.9 +3.2 44.9 28th 24.3 +2.3 18.2 5th 20.7 30.5 average 68%
Rabbit Flat 39.5 +1.0 44.1 30th 24.4 +0.4 22.2 4th 51.8 118.8 average 44%
Territory Grape Farm 37.2 -0.3 43.5 27th 21.8 +0.1 19.4 13th 93.0 47.6 high 195%
Walungurru 41.6   46.2 28th 27.0   21.5 11th 20.2
Yuendumu 38.2 +1.7 42.5 29th 23.2 +0.8 19.4 13th 22.6 64.7 average 35%
Yulara Aero 40.9 +2.3 46.4 28th 24.8 +2.2 19.9 13th 28.4 24.8 average 115%
Offshore Islands (district 200)
Northern Endeavour 32.5   36.0 11th 27.1   24.0 3rd

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 Tuesday 1 February 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