Northern Territory in February 2011: Darwin Airport smashes rainfall records

  • Tropical Cyclone Carlos forms over Darwin
  • Wettest month on record at Darwin Airport
  • Darwin Airport measures wettest day on record
  • Darwin Airport measures coolest February day on record

Tropical Cyclone Carlos forms over Darwin

Late in the day on 13 February a tropical low pressure system developed over Australia’s Top End, centred about 50 km north of Katherine. As this system moved to the northwest, exceptionally wet conditions began to develop over Darwin and rural areas, becoming notably intense late on the 15th. It was about this same time that the system emerged over Darwin Harbour. Conditions were ripe for the tropical low to intensify as it moved over the warm ocean waters. The low pressure system became Tropical Cyclone Carlos, of category 1 intensity, while over Darwin Harbour on the 16th. The cyclone remained slow moving over the city of Darwin for over 24 hours. By early on the 17th, the system had moved southeast of Darwin and was downgraded to a tropical low. Due primarily to the slow movement of the storm, several rainfall records were broken during this three day period.

Darwin Airport breaks several rainfall records

Heavy rain from the slow moving TC Carlos added to the already wet conditions and produced an exceptionally wet February. Darwin Airport recorded 367.6 mm of rain in the 24 hour period to 9 am on 16 February. The previous wettest day for Darwin Airport was recorded on 3 January 1997 when Tropical Cyclone Rachel brought 290.4 mm of rain. The Darwin Airport 3-day total (15 to 17 February) was 684.8 mm, breaking the previous 3-day record established between 8th December 1998 and 10th December 1998 when Severe Tropical Cyclone Thelma brought 462.0 mm of rain. In the 7-days period from the 13th to 19th Darwin Airport measured 847.4mm. The previous record for the wettest week at Darwin Airport was 615.8mm set in 6 to 12 January 1991. Moreover, Darwin Airport accumulated 1110.2 mm of rain, breaking the previous monthly record of 1013.6 mm set in March of 1977.

Darwin Airport breaks temperature record

As pre-TC Carlos approached Darwin, the maximum temperature for the 15th at Darwin Airport reached only 24.8° C. The previous record low February maximum temperature was 25.6° C set on the 3rd in 1956.

Heavy Rain at Jabiru

On the 22nd, a thunderstorm at Jabiru dumped a total of 190 mm of rain in a day, including 70.2 mm in 34 minutes and 119.8 mm in 94 minutes.

Rainfall

On the 16th, again due to pre-TC Carlos, nearly all recording stations around the Greater Darwin region measured their highest 24 hour rainfall on record: Leanyer* recorded the highest with 344.2 mm at which point the rain gauge over flowed, Darwin Airport recorded 367.6 mm, Channel Island had 311.2 mm and Palmerston had 300.0 mm which were all daily rainfall records. New 3-day rainfall records were also set with Channel Island receiving the highest 3-day rainfall accumulation with 808.1 mm in the 3-day period from the 15th to the 17th. During the same 3-day period, Fort Hill Wharf recorded 781 mm and 684.8 mm fell at Darwin Airport. On the 18th, as ex-TC Carlos moved to the south west, more rainfall records were broken when 230.2 mm fell at Mango Farm.

The wettest overall was Leanyer* with 1179.6 mm which is an underestimate because the rain guage overflowed on the 16th. The next wettest was at Channel Island with 1147.8 mm followed by Darwin Airport with 1110.2 mm; this marks the highest total February rainfall on record at each of these sites.

The driest overall was at Alexandria with 1.4 mm.

The wettest single day was on the 16th at Darwin Airport with 367.6 mm, followed by Geriatric Park with 363.2 mm on the 15th and then Leanyer* with 344.2 on the 16th.

Tropical cyclone Carlos brought the highest February daily rainfall on record to most sites in the Darwin-Daly rainfall district.

Temperature

The mean maximum temperatures for the month remained cooler than normal throughout the Territory. The mean minimum temperatures were cooler in the northern half and warmer in the south.  The average mean maximum temperature in the Territory for the February was 33.16°C and the Territory average minimum temperature was 23.03°C.

Maximum temperature

A persistent monsoon trough, along with the rainy weather over the northern half of the Northern Territory during the month contributed to the below normal maximum temperatures in the region. Average maximum temperatures were 3 to 4 degrees below normal in central parts of the Territory.

The warmest days on average were at Walungurru with 37.4 °C, followed by Yulara 35.6°C.

The hottest day was on the 4th in far southern NT when Walungurru reached 42.0 °C , followed by Curtin Springs with 41.0 °C and Yulara Aero measured 40.0 °C, all on the same day.

The coolest days on average were at Central Arnhem Plateau with 29.8 °C, followed by Black Point with 30.1 °C and then Channel Point with 30.4 °C.

The coldest day was at Watarrka with 22.4 °C and Yulara Aero with 22.8 °C on the 6th when ex-TC Yasi brought thick cloud and rain to the far southern NT. The next coldest day was at Batchelor Aero with 23.9 °C on the 16th.

Some sites, including Darwin Airport, had their coldest February day (lowest maximum temperature) on record. Two sites had their lowest February mean daily maximum temperature on record, these were Channel Point and Delamere Weapons Range.

Minimum temperature

Minimum temperatures over the northern half of the Territory remained cooler than normal where as in the southern parts they remained warmer than normal.

The coldest night was at Kulgera with 14.5 °C on the 23rd, followed by Arltunga with 14.9 °C on the 26th.

The coolest nights on average were at Arltunga with 20.7 °C, followed by Kulgera with 21.3 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at  Centre Island with 25.6 °C, followed by Dum In Mirrie with 25.2 °C.

The warmest night was at Centre Island with 29.1 °C on the 4th, followed by Dum In Mirrie with 29.0 °C also on the 4th.

Some sites had their lowest February mean daily minimum temperature on record.

Wind

This months highest wind gusts were all associated with TC Carlos. The strongest wind gust was at was at Darwin Airport with 98 km/h on the 15th, followed by Point Fawcett with 91 km/h on the 16th, and then Darwin Airport with 83 km/h on the 16th.

Flooding

Flooding occured in the Daly and Adelaide Rivers as a result of the heavy rainfall from TC Carlos.

Further information

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Extremes in February 2011
Hottest day 42.0 °C at Walungurru on the 4th
Warmest days on average 37.4 °C at Walungurru
Coolest days on average 29.8 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Coldest day 22.4 °C at Watarrka on the 6th
Coldest night 14.5 °C at Kulgera on the 23rd
Coolest nights on average 20.7 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 26.2 °C at North East Island
Warmest night 29.1 °C at Centre Island on the 4th
Warmest on average overall 30.7 °C at Walungurru
Coolest on average overall 26.1 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 1179.6 mm at Leanyer*
Driest overall 1.4 mm at Alexandria
Wettest day 442.5 mm at Daly River Police Station on the 18th
Highest wind gust 98 km/h at Darwin Airport on the 15th

Record highest February daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall (mm) Previous wettest
Years of
record
Darwin Airport 339.6 on the 16th 250.2 on the 18th in 1955 70
Tipperary 222.8 on the 18th 177.8 on the 5th in 1942 41
Darwin River Dam 216.0 on the 15th 115.0 on the 14th in 1975 39
Larrakeyah 234.6 on the 17th 210.5 on the 20th in 2008 35
Channel Island 311.2 on the 16th 158.8 on the 16th in 1938 34
Jabiru Airport 190.4 on the 22nd 155.8 on the 5th in 1980 18
McMinns Lagoon 205.0 on the 16th 135.4 on the 23rd in 1997 34
Atula 119.6 on the 22nd 119.2 on the 28th in 2010 32
Humpty Doo Collard Road 214.2 on the 15th 144.4 on the 23rd in 1997 30
Mango Farm 230.2 on the 18th 123.0 on the 11th in 1981 28
Elizabeth Valley 158.7 on the 16th 121.4 on the 17th in 2003 22
Karama* 191.7 on the 17th 190.8 on the 22nd in 1997 23
Stokes Hill 288.4 on the 16th 148.3 on the 6th in 1969 18
Leanyer* 344.2 on the 16th 179.2 on the 20th in 2008 20
Territory Wildlife Park 173.0 on the 15th 108.2 on the 18th in 2009 18
Shoal Bay 284.2 on the 16th 210.4 on the 22nd in 1997 15
CSIRO Berrimah 192.4 on the 17th 181.0 on the 20th in 2008 18




Record highest total February rainfall
Total rainfall (mm) Previous wettest
Years of
record
Average
Warruwi 540.8 501.8 in 1991 81 235.9
Darwin Airport 1068.0 814.5 in 1969 70 364.6
Darwin River Dam 829.2 599.0 in 1984 39 324.8
Channel Island 1147.8 756.5 in 2003 35 342.6
McMinns Lagoon 862.9 855.4 in 2003 34 371.6
Humpty Doo Collard Road 836.7 724.2 in 2003 30 348.3
Stokes Hill 912.8 668.0 in 1969 18 306.4
Karama* 878.5 716.4 in 2003 22 375.1
Elizabeth Valley 883.1 762.0 in 2003 21 348.4
Leanyer* 1179.6 824.6 in 2008 20 411.6
CSIRO Berrimah 800.2 769.4 in 2003 17 431.7
Shoal Bay 973.1 666.0 in 2008 15 419.1



Record lowest February daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature (°C)
Previous coolest
Years of
record
Average
Darwin Airport 24.8 on the 15th 25.6 on the 3rd in 1956 68 31.4
Mango Farm 25.0 on the 17th 25.5 on the 16th in 2003 28 33.1
Batchelor Aero 23.9 on the 16th 25.2 on the 3rd in 2004 15 32.2
Dum In Mirrie 26.1 on the 15th 26.7 on the 19th in 2008 12 31.0



Record lowest February mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature (°C)
Previous coolest
Years of
record
Average
Channel Point 30.4 30.5 in 2008 16 31.5
Delamere Weapons Range 31.9 32.1 in 2004 12 34.2




Record lowest February mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature (°C)
Previous coolest
Years of
record
Average
Black Point 24.8 24.9 in 1994 19 25.6
Batchelor Aero 23.4 23.6 in 2006 15 23.8
Point Fawcett 24.7 24.9 in 2003 11 25.6
Groote Eylandt Airport 24.4 24.6 in 2007 11 25.0
Pine Creek Council 23.3 23.4 in 2002 10 23.8



Summary statistics for February 2011
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 30.8 -1.4 34.5 3rd 23.4 -0.4 21.6 14th 608.0 367.7 v high 165%
Black Point 30.1 -0.9 32.4 22nd 24.8 -0.8 21.9 15th 520.2 282.6 v high 184%
Bradshaw 33.1   36.7 3rd 24.5   22.8 12th 388.0
Central Arnhem Plateau 29.8   34.4 1st 22.4   20.8 12th 418.6
Channel Point 30.4 -1.1 32.7 3rd 24.8 -0.2 22.0 1st 490.3 430.1 high 114%
Darwin Airport 30.5 -0.9 33.1 3rd 24.5 -0.2 22.1 16th 1110.2 364.6 highest 293%
Delamere Weapons Range 31.9 -2.3 35.6 3rd 23.5 -0.4 21.4 22nd 358.4 234.4 high 153%
Douglas River 32.3 -0.8 35.8 3rd 23.5 -0.2 21.3 1st 315.4 291.1 average 108%
Dum In Mirrie 30.7 -0.3 32.9 5th 25.2 0.0 23.2 15th 663.4 459.3 high 144%
Jabiru Airport 31.9 -1.2 36.2 3rd 24.2 -0.2 22.3 16th 726.0 364.7 v high 199%
Katherine Aviation Museum 32.2 -1.8 35.7 3rd 23.7 -0.2 22.3 9th 359.6 244.9 high 147%
Middle Point 31.6   35.5 3rd 23.8   22.6 15th 727.4
Noonamah 31.9   36.2 3rd 23.9   22.7 15th 891.0
Pine Creek Council 31.3 -1.2 34.6 1st 23.3 -0.5 21.7 16th 473.0
Point Fawcett 30.7 -0.7 32.5 1st 24.7 -0.9 22.5 10th 1044.8 260.9 highest 400%
Point Stuart 30.6   33.9 3rd 25.1   23.3 7th 436.4
Port Keats Aero 31.4   34.0 3rd 24.4   22.4 1st 424.2
Tindal RAAF 32.4 -1.3 35.7 3rd 23.8 -0.3 22.7 9th 294.4 248.6 high 118%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Alyangula Police 31.5 -0.9 34.6 3rd 25.1 -0.5 22.4 15th 252.2 244.0 average 103%
Gove Airport 31.0 -0.4 34.0 3rd 23.7 -0.8 21.9 9th 403.4 278.4 high 145%
Groote Eylandt Airport 31.9 -0.7 35.5 3rd 24.4 -0.6 21.7 9th 287.8 272.4 average 106%
Maningrida Aero 30.8   33.7 3rd 24.2   21.9 16th 801.0
Milingimbi 31.2   34.6 3rd 24.2   22.1 16th 500.2
Ngayawili 30.8 -0.4 33.4 3rd 24.9 -0.7 22.7 16th 449.4 361.7 high 124%
North East Island 32.0   33.6 4th 26.2   23.3 9th 233.0 169.3 high 138%
Warruwi 30.8 -0.6 34.1 3rd 24.6 -0.6 22.2 16th 540.8 235.9 highest 229%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 32.2 -1.6 36.8 3rd 23.9 -0.8 22.6 13th 243.2 220.9 average 110%
Bulman 32.5   37.2 3rd 23.7   22.0 16th 302.0
Centre Island 31.7 -1.2 36.2 3rd 25.6 -1.0 23.0 13th 548.6 268.8 v high 204%
Daly Waters 32.6 -2.2 36.2 2nd 23.3 -0.2 21.2 22nd 235.2 178.7 average 132%
Larrimah 32.4 -2.0 37.0 3rd 23.2 -0.5 21.9 5th 258.6 207.2 high 125%
McArthur River Mine 33.5 -1.7 38.7 3rd 24.2 -0.5 22.7 16th 265.2 184.5 high 144%
Ngukurr 33.0 -1.9 38.0 3rd 24.3 -0.4 23.4 6th 203.5 177.3 average 115%
Wollogorang 32.5 -1.9 37.4 3rd 23.8 -0.3 22.2 16th 251.9 248.5 average 101%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 33.1 -2.5 36.7 3rd 24.1 -0.6 22.1 22nd 183.8 199.6 average 92%
Lajamanu 33.4 -2.5 37.0 3rd 22.9 -0.7 20.1 1st 267.8 144.8 high 185%
Timber Creek 33.2 -1.9 37.4 3rd 24.5 -0.1 22.2 12th 247.7 232.7 average 106%
Victoria River Downs 33.1 -2.3 37.1 3rd 24.1 -0.4 21.7 22nd 175.8 162.0 average 109%
Wave Hill 33.4 -2.5 37.6 3rd 23.4 -0.4 21.6 22nd 100.9 175.1 average 58%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 33.2 -3.1 36.6 3rd 23.5 -0.7 21.9 25th 138.2 99.2 high 139%
Tennant Creek Airport 33.2 -2.5 36.1 2nd 22.9 -1.6 20.9 1st 298.2 118.6 high 251%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 33.4 -1.7 36.2 19th 21.5 +0.7 16.7 23rd 111.2 41.3 high 269%
Arltunga 32.6   36.0 19th 20.7   14.9 26th 187.8 39.5 v high 475%
Curtin Springs 35.2 -1.3 41.0 4th 22.5 +0.9 16.5 7th 73.0 25.2 high 290%
Kulgera 33.5 -2.1 37.3 4th 21.3 -0.2 14.5 23rd 147.8 33.9 v high 436%
Papunya 34.9   39.1 4th 22.3   18.3 23rd 66.7 39.8 high 168%
Rabbit Flat 35.5 -1.6 39.0 3rd 23.5 -0.1 21.0 13th 158.6 107.8 high 147%
Territory Grape Farm 34.5 -1.8 36.6 20th 21.7 0.0 18.9 23rd 79.2 70.2 high 113%
Walungurru 37.4   42.0 4th 24.1   18.2 7th 64.4
Yuendumu 34.1 -1.1 37.8 4th 22.0 0.0 19.8 1st 85.3 64.0 high 133%
Yulara Aero 35.6 -1.3 40.0 4th 23.0 +0.8 16.6 7th 86.0 39.4 v high 218%
Offshore Islands (district 200)
Northern Endeavour 32.7 -0.3 34.0 23rd 27.8 +0.8 25.0 9th

Notes

* Rain guage overflowed at Leanyer and Karama on the 16th.

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 28 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
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